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Lee County Soccer Goes From Outhouse to Penthouse

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SANFORD — Lee County High School soccer is making a run at the playoffs, and under third-year coach Jeff Tolley, the Yellow Jackets have gone from the outhouse to the penthouse.

They told Jeff Tolley not to expect much when he first took the soccer job at Lee Senior. "I had heard the stories that Lee County soccer was the doldrums of the Cap 8."

Tolley was pleasantly surprised to find in this former football hotbed several dozen kids who had been playing soccer since elementary school.

"Sanford has been a hotbed of football in the past, but now soccer is starting to become more popular in this area," Tolley said.

Lee County has become one of the powers in the Cap 8 in '98, but the soccer landscape looked much different before Jeff Tolley became coach.

"A couple years ago we were just a pushover team, and we have turned that around," Lee County sweeper Brandon Mize said.

This season Lee has tied Sanderson and beaten defending state-champion Leesville Road. The Yellow Jackets now feel their conference opponents treat them like the other members of the Cap 8 family.

"They come out a little more serious when it comes to the soccer game," Mize said. "They use to come out and laugh."

"They used to go in the games thinking it would be a pushover, and that they could win," Lee County forward Ryan Murphy said. "Now we come out early and surprise them."

It was a surprise, but not anymore. Lee County's rapid accent in the state's most competitive soccer conference has everyone's attention.