The start Franklin County’s football team couldn’t afford was the one it had Friday night.

Ballard scored on the opening kickoff, led 17-0 before the Flyers scored and went on to a 31-13 victory at Benny Watkins Field.

“You can’t start a game that way,” FCHS coach Eddie James said. “The kids are trying to rebound from last week (a 27-7 loss at Corbin), and the opening kickoff goes for a touchdown.

“I thought the kids fought, but we have to jell as a team. I still don’t think we’re playing football as a team. We lost a lot of great leadership off last year’s team, and the players are learning to jell as a team.”

Ballard led 10-0 after the first four minutes of the game, and a 15-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tristen Hawkins put the Bruins up 17-0 with 4:14 left in the first quarter.

FCHS’ Kaden Moorman returned the kickoff after Hawkins' score 92 yards for a touchdown, making the score 17-6 at the end of the first quarter.

With less than two minutes left in the first half, Franklin County’s Peyton Ledford intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Easton Powell kicked the extra point to make the score 17-13, and the score didn’t change until the fourth quarter when Hawkins had touchdown passes to Chaunte Marrero and Caleb Benton.

The Flyers have played some stiff competition in their first four games. Ballard is ranked No. 5 in Class 6A in this week’s Associated Press poll. Corbin, which was ranked fourth in Class 4A before last week’s game, is No. 1 in the latest AP poll while Franklin County is fifth.

“That’s what we wanted,” James said of the schedule. “We wanted to play great competition to see where we’re at. The only implication is how well we play in November. We want to win our district, and we think we’ll be competitive in our district.”

FCHS (2-2) has one more game before district play starts. The Flyers are at Woodford County Friday, and they open district play Sept. 24 at Shelby County.

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