No. 8 Fort Dale traveling to Taylor Road

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2006

A week after a devastating loss to the No. 2 Faith Rams, No. 8 Fort Dale stepped up and stepped on then ranked region foe Clarke Prep Gators, 22-20, in a game that the Eagles will probably look back on as a turning point in the season.

The Eagles (4-1 overall, 3-1 Region 1) got another region win last week against Monroe Academy, 32-6, and face off against another region opponent this week in the Taylor Road Tigers.

The winless Tigers have struggled this season after moving up classifications and with region rivals Morgan Academy and No. 2 Cottage Hill on the horizon for the Eagles, Fort Dale head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley knows a win this weekend against Taylor Road would be a huge stepping-stone for his team going into the next four weeks.

In consecutive weeks, the Eagles play No. 10 Glenwood, Morgan Academy (the team that put Fort Dale out of the playoffs in 2005), No. 2 Cottage Hill and Sampley's former school, No. 9 Lowndes Academy.

&#8220We can't slip up,” Sampley said. &#8220Every team in our region has beaten Taylor Road and everyone probably will.”

Sampley said with Taylor Road moving up this season, the Tigers don't have the numbers that many of the other Class AAA teams have.

One of the keys for the Fort Dale Eagles' turnaround since the shutout loss to No. 2 Faith in Week 3 has been the play of quarterback/defensive back Ty Newton.

Although Sampley's offense is a run-heavy offense, Newton has flourished in the past weeks as the Eagles have spread the ball out more in order to open up the run.

&#8220Ty is a senior who has never really played quarterback except for as a backup during his freshman year,” Sampley said. &#8220But he has gotten better each and every week and that's all we ask of him.”

During last week's win over Monroe Academy, Newton threw 17-of-30, an unusually high number of passes for Fort Dale's offense, for 150 yards and rushed for 26 yards.

The Eagles' ground game was led by the double-threat of Mika Jones and Blake Mullins, with 86 and 50 yards rushing respectively. Mullins also pulled down four of Newton's passes for 42 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles, Newton had a spectacular day with four interceptions while Mullins had 10 tackles and junior Barry Boan had nine.

Newton's four interceptions are believed to be a school record, with teammate Mika Jones having pulled down three interceptions against Edgewood last season.

Kickoff for this week's game at Taylor Road is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.