Franklin County hasn’t seen soccer this good in a long time.
In what is the best start for a soccer program in Seahawks school history, the team is tied with Port St. Joe for the district lead, and poised to take on their arch-rivals at homne tonight.
The Seahawks, under the direction of coach Bill McCullough, upped their record to 7-1 Tuesday night, with a 4-2 win at home against Class 3A Taylor County. The Seahawks outscored their opponents 2-1 in each of the two halves.
This brings Franklin County's record to 7-1 on the season and 3-0 in district play.
Sophomore Gideon Dively scored two goals to give him 22 on the year. Sophomore Brayden McCall scored one, and junior Luis Ramirez scored one on a penalty kick as well.
"Taylor County plays a very aggressive brand of soccer and it provided for a very exciting game," said McCullough. "We started the game much faster than we have in the past and that allowed us to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute with a goal by Dively."
At about the 60th minute, Ramirez connected on a penalty kick. McCall scored on a break away, which has become his most comfortable scoring opportunity this season.
Taylor scored once on a corner kick and once on a long shot, about 30 yards away.
"Our young men have improved at a tremendous rate. Playing quality opponents weekly is only going to make us better," said the coach. "We may take our lumps but we will be ready when tournament time arrives because of this type of adversity. "
In an away game Friday night, the boys downed Bozeman 9-2 as Dively nailed six goals, giving him 20 for the season through the first seven games.
Sophomore teammates Esteban Bernabe scored two, and McCall one.
“We really played with some physicality for the first time all season Friday night,” said McCullough. “We got out to a very early 4-0 lead in the first 15 minutes. I think we got a little too relaxed and started to try some things that we really have not tried so far in this season. Bozeman took advantage and snuck a goal in.’
Holding a 7-1 lead into halftime, the Seahawks’ second half was spent with a regular rotation of personnel.
“Every player that dressed for our game played at least five minutes. Including a sixth- and a seventh-grader,” said McCullough. “This is far more important to me than mercy ruling teams. If we have an opportunity to get our young guys some genuine game-speed action, I will take it almost every time.”
The coach said the game against Bozeman, which is a Class 3A school, gave the Seahawks another opportunity to play an opponent from a larger school and FHSAA classification. “These are tests that will prove incredibly valuable come district tournament time,” said McCullough.
After defeating Taylor County Tuesday, the Seahawks were poised to take on arch-rival Port St. Joe at home tonight, for sole possession of first place in the district. The girls play at 5 p.m. and the boys at aboput 7 p.m.
On Friday, the girls play Wakulla at home while the boys travel to play St. John Paul II.
The boys soccer team traveled to Quincy Dec. 9 and defeated Munroe 4-1, as Dively marked another hat trick with three goals to give him 14 at that point of the season.
Ramirez scored his fifth goal of the season on a penalty kick in the second half.
“Our defense continues to be one of, if not the, strongest areas of our program right now,” said McCullough. “Senior Hunter Duval, sophomore Will Luberto, eighth-grader Enrique Dominguez, and junior Parker Mock, along with freshman goalkeeper Garyson Millender do an excellent job of playing as a unit and shutting down opportunities quickly.”
The coach said “we have a lot of momentum as a program right now. It will be key that we manage that momentum into next week and solidify a No. 1 position in the district with a win against our friends down the road on Wednesday night.
“I feel confident that this may be the best start to a boys soccer season we have had here ever, or at least in a while,” added McCullough. “Our soccer program this year has only improved every day; that is hard to find in a program. It is really difficult to get better every single day but we have managed to truly accomplish that.
“We have a chance to do some things that Franklin County soccer has never done before if we are able to stay focused and play within ourselves,” he said.
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