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Eagles prep for Rebel showdown

With the regular season in the books, the Fort Dale Academy Eagles advance to the first round of playoff play.  Their obstacle—a 6-5 Bessemer Academy Rebels team that has seen its share of ups and downs this season.

FDA head football coach James “Speed” Sampley said that, in that regard, the Eagles and the Rebels aren’t so different.

And while the Rebels are a major component of this week’s preparation, he added that it’s mostly a matter of self-improvement following last week’s surprising loss at home to Lakeside Academy.

“We’re going to try to work hard each day and work on tackling, and make sure we know our assignments,” Sampley said. “And of course, we’ve got to know and be able to execute the game plan and not turn the ball over.

“The difference, of course, is the finality of it. If you don’t play well enough and you lose, you’re done.  We didn’t play well last Friday night.  We didn’t show up, and it looked like we didn’t want to be there.  I think we’ll be ready to roll this Friday night.”

Bessemer Academy is worthy of concern, Sampley said.  He called the Rebels a very solid, talented opponent that won’t beat themselves with mistakes.

The Rebels are a spread offense that predominantly focuses on the run, and Sampley added that their depth allows them to field players who don’t often play on both sides of the ball.

Though at this point in the season, Sampley suspects their superior depth won’t play as large of a factor.

“By this time of the year, my players have conditioned themselves for that,” he said.

“It’s a much bigger deal earlier in the year.  Football is one of those games that you have to play yourself into shape for it, and this is what we’ve done all year on.  There isn’t any tomorrow—they’ve got to go now.”

Sampley said that victory or defeat would ultimately boil down to two aspects of the game Friday.

“We can’t afford to shoot ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over,” he said.

“And obviously on defense, we’re going to have to make tackles when we’re supposed to.  That’s the key to the whole thing.”

The Eagles host the Rebels Friday.