Cougars traveling to Fort Dale

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Escambia Academy defense waits for a call from their coaches against Southern Academy.|Photo by Chandler Myers

For the Escambia Academy Cougars, the final two weeks of the season will come down to getting better at what they do, so they are sharp for the playoffs.

The Cougars (6-3, 4-2) stay on the road this week as they travel up I-65 to Fort Dale Academy to take on the Eagles (4-4, 4-2), who won last year’s meeting 42-20.

Coming into this year’s matchup, Escambia Academy head coach Heath Gibson said he likes his teams chances.

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“I feel a lot more confident this year than I did last year when we played them,” he said. “I think they lost about 12 or 14 seniors from last year.”

The match ups in this week’s game could be even or lean slightly towards the Cougars.

If the Cougars are able to use their skills players successfully, they should find success against Fort Dale, Gibson said.

“I think we match up well with them physically,” he said. “I feel like we have a better match up with our skill players and if we take advantage of some areas, we will be in good shape.”

In last year’s game, the Cougars led 14-0 before surrendering 42 points to the Eagles.

Keeping that from happening this season will fall back on the Cougars’ defense, which has played well, Gibson said.

“This season, the team is completely different,” he said. “We do so many different things defensively that it makes it tough for teams to scheme against us. We should play solid and not give up many points.”

The key to success for the Cougars will be the success of their passing game and how well they work in the trenches.

Controlling the line of scrimmage and opening up the offense must happen for EA to get a win, Gibson said.

“We have to be able to throw the football,” he said. “We need to pass a little more and control lines on both sides of the ball to have success.”

The Eagles will look to stop the spread offense of the Cougars by lining up with several men in the box.

Playing to the strong side is the tendency that has been seen in film, Gibson said.

“They’ll will line up in a 4-2 or 3-3 defense,” he said. “They have a rover a lot of the time trying to roll wherever the stronger side is.”

Escambia Academy’s defense will prepare to stop the run game, but will not be fooled if the Eagles try to throw a pass.

The strength looks to be the running game, but it won’t be a run formation the Eagles show, Gibson said.

“Offensively, they will spread it out and try to run the ball,” he said. “They don’t pass the ball that well, but they will go to the air some.”

With the last two weeks being used for improvement, the Cougars are focusing on the task that stands in front of them.

Fighting for a state championship is the idea that has been put in their heads, Gibson said.

“Basically, we’ve discussed that they are guaranteed three more weeks, but we want them to want five more” he said. “We have been putting it in their brain that we can go and win state.”

The Cougars and Eagles kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Fort Dale Academy in Greenville.