Fort Dale Academy puts ‘foot on the gas’ in 45-14 rout of Hooper Academy

Published 11:52 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fort Dale Academy set the tone for how its season opener would go from the opening kickoff Thursday night.

Eagles kick returner Alan Alvarez found an opening on an 85-yard touchdown return, his first of two first-half touchdowns en route to a 45-14 victory over the Colts at Winfred E. Boan Field.

Alvarez also went 4-of-4 on extra point attempts in the first half. 

“It couldn’t have been a greater start to the game,” said Eric Folmar, Eagles head coach. “That’s what we wanted to see. We talked about it. We had a really slow start to the jamboree last week, and we really wanted to put our foot on the gas and start fast. And we did that.”

Garrett Simmons followed up Alvarez’s score with a 2-yard run on the Eagles’ first possession on offense with 7:32 left in the opening quarter to extend the lead to 14-0.

Near the end of the first stanza, Alvarez booted a 43-yard field goal attempt through the uprights to put Fort Dale ahead 17-0.

After a short drive by Hooper ended in a punt, the Eagles took possession on the Colts 45-yard line, and Alvarez’s number was called again, this time on a pop pass from quarterback Ethan Alford.

Alvarez secured the short reception, raced around the left end, and down the Fort Dale sideline on a 45-yard touchdown to increase the margin to 24-0 with 9:35 to play in the second quarter.

Four minutes later, the Eagles added another score to their 31-0 advantage with a 15-yard touchdown run by Everette Black, who led the team with 87 yards rushing on seven carries..

Fort Dale missed an opportunity for another first-half touchdown when a 13-yard touchdown run by Simmons was negated by a holding penalty. A bad exchange from the snapper to the holder removed a second chance at points on the possession.

Near the close of the half, Hooper senior R.J. Coker intercepted an Alford pass to the left side of the field to set up the Colts with their best field position of the half at the Eagles 32-yard line.

With five seconds left before halftime, Hooper quarterback Ron McGinty scored on a 2-yard keeper after a fake handoff to Coker. Senior Zeke Lopez tacked on the extra point, but the Eagles found themselves behind 31-7.

Folmar noted the end of the half wasn’t an ideal end to an otherwise promising display.

“We get a touchdown negated by a penalty, and then we give up a big play right there before the half,” he said. “We let down. We went and started scoreboard-watching, and we let our play down a little bit. You can’t do that against good football teams. It’s going to come back to bite you.”

Alford added a touchdown on the ground via a 13-yard run midway through the third quarter, and Cole Salter picked up some reps on offense, adding a 1-yard touchdown of his own in the fourth quarter. Cay Gardner filled in for Alvarez on extra point duty and went 2-of-2 in the second half.

Alvarez, who scored 19 of Fort Dale’s first-half points, didn’t play the second half and was icing his left knee on the sidelines in the third quarter, but by the fourth quarter, he was without a wrap on the knee and all smiles with his teammates.

“I think he just had a little bit of a scare on that last kick return right before the half,” Folmar said. “He tried to do a little too much with the football, and got himself dinged up a little bit.”

Hooper’s second score came with 4:32 left in regulation via a 7-yard McGinty pass to Lucas Spellman. Lopez’s low extra-point try cleared Fort Dale defenders and the bar to bring the score to 45-14.

“We got put behind really quickly,” said Marty Baker, Hooper head coach. “When you give up the opening kickoff for a touchdown, that puts you in a bad spot. It’s like we played catch-up all night, and our guys just ran out of gas. In my eyes, we didn’t compete very hard. We tried to – we did some things right, but we’ve got a lot to work on. Tonight showed us we’re far behind the eight ball when it comes to some things.”

Alford finished the contest 5-of-10 for 125 passing yards with a touchdown and interception, and added 41 rushing yards and a score on eight carries. Folmar said while Alford missed a few opportunities through the air, the dual-threat performed well given the field conditions.

“Ethan’s a great athlete,” Folmar said. “We know that. He’s an athlete playing quarterback. I don’t know if we could have had worse field conditions for a Game 1 situation like this … We were pleased. He’s got some things to overcome, but I think overall, he played a really good game, and he does a really good job of just controlling the game on offense and getting our guys where they’re supposed to be.”

Fort Dale (1-0) will travel to Phenix City to tangle with Glenwood on Sept. 2.

“Glenwood’s a big game for us,” Folmar said. “They’re a perennial playoff team and championship contender. It’ll be a really good test of where we’re at this point of the season … They’ve got a first-year head coach, so we’re not really sure what to expect. But it will be a really good challenge for our guys. I can’t wait to get on the road and see how we respond.”