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Franklin Co. kickers

SUMMIT — It was an historic night for the Franklin County boysand girls soccer teams, as both units collected victories over apair of strong North Pike squads to clinch Class 3A state playoffberths.

The Bulldogs won 5-3 in overtime, off five dynamic goals fromsenior Ryan Ratcliff. In the girls game, Franklin County beat NorthPike 2-0 to clinch its first-ever playoff berth and secure the mostwins in school history.

“It was an awesome night,” said Franklin County girls coach BenYarbrough. “Our team played great and got the huge districtwin.”

Motivated by revenge, the Lady Bulldogs lost to North Pike lastseason in the same must-win (playoffs berth) situation. This timethey made sure a repeat was not going to happen

“This was the best team effort we’ve had all year,” saidYarbrough about his team’s big victory. “This was a special nightfor everyone on our team.”

From November to January, Yarbrough and Lady Bulldogs assistantAmanda Upton preached to the team the importance of staying focusedand improving. Tuesday night that mission was accomplished in a bigway.

“We played great,” said Coach Yarbrough’s daughter Caroline, whogave FCHS a quick 1-0 lead before halftime. “It’s an awesomewin.”

Yarbrough, the Class 3A leader in goals scored with 32, workedextra hard for the win. She played goalkeeper in the second half tosecure the shutout. Junior Kate Brasher knocked in the insurancegoal late in the frame off a penalty kick

The Lady Bulldogs now stand 15-5 overall, their best mark inFCHS history.

In the boys’ contest, Franklin County (16-4)used Ratcliff’s heroics to clinch the Bulldogs’ third straightplayoff appearance

North Pike’s Brazilian-born exchange student Rodrigo Silva gavethe Jags every opportunity to collect the win. Silva scored twogoals and gave the FC defense fits, but in the end Ratcliff savedthe day.

“It’s probably one of the best games I’ve played,” saidRatcliff, the Class 3A scoring leader with 40 goals. “They (NorthPike) marked me all night, and I still found a way to score.”

Ratcliff’s five goals were not a career high. He scored six lastseason against Wesson. He has scored 80 goals combined over thelast two years.

“I feel we can go real far in the playoffs,” said Ratcliff. “Wehave a good team.”

Franklin County resumes play Thursday night at NatchezCathedral, beginning at 6 p.m. with the girls contest.