Eagles chasing playoff berth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2005

At Fort Dale Academy, it's never too early to talk playoffs.

With a 2-1 area record, the Eagles only need to knock off bitter rival Monroe Academy Friday night to clinch a spot in the Alabama Independent School Association playoffs.

Fort Dale improved to 2-1 in the area thanks to a 355-yard rushing performance in a 48-17 rout of previously unbeaten Mobile Christian last Friday.

"I was just so proud of the way our guys blocked against Mobile Christian," Eagles coach James "Speed" Sampley said. "There were instances on film where I saw our guys just drive the other team into the dirt."

The excellent blocking by the offensive line paved the way for another 100-plus yard performance by senior running back Tim James. James finished with 215 yards on 14 carries and four touchdowns.

Aside from a 20-0 defeat to No. 1 Bessemer Academy, Fort Dale has steamrolled past its opponents. And rebounding from a shutout loss two weeks ago, Sampley said that he notices that his team is playing with confidence.

"We are very confident right now; we might be a little too confident," Sampley said. "But the one thing I like about this team is that we improve each week."

And it's not just on offense, either.

The Eagles' defense gave up 140 yards of total offense to Mobile Christian.

"They are awful good," Volunteers coach Joe Nettles said. "They are a lot better than they were supposed to be."

Even with a big win over the Leopards, Sampley said there is little to no chance that his team will have a letdown given their upcoming opponent.

"This is our rival, so there's no chance there going to be a letdown," he said.

Monroe Academy picked up its first win of the season Friday night with a convincing 41-20 victory over Hooper Academy.

Stephen Jaye rushed for 142 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns, while quarterback Trent Dawson rushed for 130 yards on 17 attempts and two touchdowns and threw for another.

Monroe Academy (1-3) finished with 537 yards of total offense.

"The success we had was because of our offensive line," Nettles said. "This is the first time that our offensive line has played so well. And we have gotten better each week."

Sampley said the key to the Eagles clinching a playoff berth on Friday will be playing disciplined football on defense.

"It's just like how it was in the 1980s with the triple option; you had to play assignment football," he said. "That's how it is with them."

The Eagles will have an easy go of preparing for the Volunteers' defense, too. Monroe Academy bases out of a 3-5 alignment just like Fort Dale.

"This week will be beneficial for our scout team, because they will actually work on a defense that we run," Sampley said. "This way, our scout team learns something rather than just running the other team's defense."