Fort Dale looks to rebound after loss

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

Fort Dale Academy has been through its ups and downs just two weeks into the season.

The Eagles (1-1) opened the season by overpowering Sparta Academy to earn a spot in last week's Alabama Sports Writers Poll among all the Alabama Independent School Association schools.

Then Fort Dale was held to less than 100 yards of total offense in a 20-0 loss to the Class AAA defending champions, Bessemer Academy, last Friday.

Now, the Eagles are looking to bounce back from the shutout loss to face a rejuvenated Hooper Academy squad coached by longtime coaching veteran John Glasscock.

The Colts (1-1) also fell last week to Edgewood Academy after opening the season with an emotional victory over rival Lowndes Academy.

"This is a very important game for both of us," Eagles coach James "Speed" Sampley said. "This is an area game."

Hooper also has been Fort Dale's Achilles heal, too. The Eagles have managed to hold off the Colts in the last few years, but it has always been a fight to the finish.

Sampley expects the same this Friday night.

"It's always a close game no matter what the scoreboard reads," he said. "I remember playing them to a 3-0 game and then last year we won 20-0, but it was a hard-fought win."

While Hooper was successful through the air against Lowndes Academy, the Colts also have emerged as a power team on the ground.

Even with the new Gulf Coast offense in place at Fort Dale, Sampley believes Hooper hasn't seen a running game like the Eagles have all season. And that means that Colt defensive end Dustin Arant may not be able to rush from the outside like he did against Lowndes or Edgewood.

"They are going to have to play the run first to try to stop us," Sampley said.

But that doesn't mean Sampley is abandoning the pass either.

"We are going to try to throw the ball 15 to 20 times a game," he said. "We aren't passing just to pass, we are hoping that our pass game opens up the run game for us."

It certainly worked against Sparta two weeks ago, when the Eagles amassed 401 yards of total offense. Almost half of that total came on the ground.

"We've just got to be more consistent on offense," Sampley said.