Wolves packed with FC players

by Nicole Stokes

Four Franklin County High School seniors — Lilly Hutto, Brooklynn Cupit, Karlee Wallace and Kaitlyn Fussell — have announced their intentions to become part of the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Lady Wolves’ soccer program.

During a joint-signing ceremony held on Friday, March 3 in Meadville, FC Head Soccer Coach Jeff Long said he was thrilled that four of his standout players would have the opportunity to compete for and further their educations at the regional post-secondary institution.

“I’m really excited for them because they worked really hard toward this,” Long said.

“This was one of their goals, to play at the next level, and they’ve improved each year — especially this year.”

Long said what helped to set the Lady Bulldogs’ soccer program — which finished 15-4-2 on the season and was the district champion — apart during the 2022-2023 campaign was his upper classmen.

“The big difference between this year and last year was these girls’ leadership,” he continued. “Our seniors were incredible.
“I think they’re going to do really well (at Co-Lin) as they’re all good students, all dedicated players and will pour their hearts into it.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we feel like we’ve prepared them to take that next step. Also (college soccer is) a more physical game and it’s faster at that level. But, I think they’re ready. I know they’re excited about it and I’m just very proud and happy for them.”

Hutto, who played in 90 games for Franklin County with 59 starts during her time in the blue and gold, said there’s a great deal of anticipation about suiting up for Co-Lin — especially with so many familiar faces also joining the ranks of the Lady Wolves.

“I’m very excited, especially since I get to go with all the other senior girls,” Hutto said.

“I’m hoping that, over the summer, I can get in really good shape, and next year I’ll be able to play a lot.”

Offensively, Hutto accounted for 22 goals and 15 assists during her time with the Lady Bulldogs along with 147 shots and 75 shots on goal.

She also had 418 total stops dating back to the 2018-2019 season.

During her most recently campaign, Hutto had 14 goals and four assists on offense along with 149 defensive take-aways.

She was the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class I Region 7 most valuable midfielder for the just-completed season and had previously snared two All-District nods.

In addition to her athletic aspirations, Hutto will be taking courses that will help her pursue her desire to become a nurse.

Cupit, who played in 92 games with 49 career starts, said she, too, was looking forward to being part of the Co-Lin soccer lineup, and knows two things will be required of her to meet expectations.

“Hard work and dedication,” Cupit pointed out.

During her time in the Lady Bulldogs’ line-up, Cupit — the 2022-23 MHSAA Class I District 7 most valuable offensive player — scored 27 goals and had 32 assists.

Her senior year included 17 goals and 134 assists with 97 shots and 53 shots on goal.

Additionally, she was credited with 347 career stops against opponents.

She was a three-time Class I District 7 All-District selection and picked up team player and most improved player honors from the FC program.

Cupit, who plans to eventually attend the University of Mississippi, has a desire to study physical therapy.

While the adjustment from high school to community college will be an important step for Wallace, she said her goal is to help in bringing her competitive spirit to Co-Lin.

“I hope I can contribute the same thing as I did in high school — I just want to play, play wherever I need to be and to be there for the team,” she noted.

Wallace’s contributions to the Lady Soccer Dawgs’ effort spanned 83 total games with 60 career starts.

She scored a total of 21 goals and had 14 assists at Franklin County — and specifically 13 goals and 10 assists during her senior season.

Also, she had 202 shots and 83 shots on goal during her tenure.

Wallace, who was selected as Class I District 7 most valuable player for 2022-23, collected 546 defensive take-aways and was a three-time All-District choice.

Wallace plans to study radiology with an eye toward attending a senior university with a goal of becoming an ultrasound technician.

Fussell, who was recognized with Class I District 7 All-District honors for the 2022-23 season, has high hopes for her involvement with the Lady Wolves.

“I’m really excited to be part of the program and I hope to contribute leadership while learning to be part of another team,” Fussell added.

The three-time All-District honoree played in 69 games while starting 57 of those for the Lady Soccer Dawgs.

She collected 14 goals and 13 assists during her time in the FC line-up and had 10 goals and 10 assists in her senior season.

Through the years, Fussell had 79 shots and 47 shots on goal offensively while putting together 319 defensive stops along the way.

Following college, Fussell said she wants to be a science teacher and a soccer coach.

The four-some is headed to a Lady Wolves’ soccer program that put up its best mark in terms of wins in the program’s history — 10-4-3 overall and 5-2-3 in conference play — during the 2022 regular season.

Additionally, the Lady Wolves were ranked for the first time in program history — hitting No. 20 in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s DII women’s soccer polls and also qualified for post-season play for the first time in school history.