Eagles facing tough stretch of season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

When Fort Dale Academy coach James "Speed" Sampley played for Auburn University's Pat Dye, Dye referred to the Tigers' last three games typically against Florida, Georgia and Alabama as Amen Corner.

Dye said that if Auburn survived those last three games, it deserved an Amen.

The same could be said for Fort Dale's remaining four games of the season. The eighth-ranked Eagles (5-1) close out the season facing three teams that are ranked in the top 10 of the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll starting with this Friday's contest against No. 6 Faith Academy, which is an area opponent.

"I don't have a name for these last four games, but we're going to take them one game at a time," Sampley said. "Our kids are only focused on Faith right now, and then we'll worry about the others as they come."

Fort Dale's remaining schedule includes an area matchup with area foe Cornerstone Christian before closing out the area schedule with No. 3 Morgan Academy. Then the Eagles step out of area play to face No. 4 Patrician Academy to close out the regular season.

Fort Dale wrapped up a spot in the Class AAA playoffs when it thumped Monroe Academy two weeks ago. Now the Eagles are playing for positioning in the playoffs, including an opportunity to host a first-round game.

Faith Academy comes into Friday's game fresh off of a 42-0 victory over Monroe Academy. Jay Joiner rushed for 170 yards on just six carries. Four of those six carries were for touchdowns on runs of 72, 52, 2 and 2 yards.

"He doesn't carry the ball for us much, but he's made the most out of his carries," Faith Academy coach Robby James said. "There are any players on our team that have carried the ball more than 25 times so far this season."

Meanwhile, Fort Dale senior tailback Tim James has easily rushed for more than 800 yards. James rushed for 173 yards just in the first half against Lee-Scott last Friday.

"We haven't played anyone as physical as Fort Dale," the Rams' coach said. "They really try to pound you and punish you on each play. We've certainly got our hands full."

Even with just one loss on the season, Faith has its back against the wall. The Rams can't afford to lose another area game if they want to host a first-round playoff; much less make the playoffs.

"This is a big game for us," Robby James said.