By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — Before there could be a Region showdown between Tipton County rivals Brighton and Munford next Friday in Brighton, the Cardinals had to take care of business against the Wooddale Cardinals.
Behind a powerful offensive line and the running of Zach Camp, the Brighton Cardinals earned the road victory in Halle Stadium 37-34 over Wooddale.
The Brighton Cardinals will step onto their home turf next Friday with a 7-1 overall record and 4-1 in league play. The Munford Cougars will enter the game fresh off a 42-8 win over Overton Thursday night to improve to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league.
Wooddale tried to ruin Brighton’s plan of still having a shot a first place in the Region entering Friday night. The Cardinals of Tipton County jumped ahead 14-0 in less than two minutes.
On Brighton’s first play from scrimmage, the Cardinals toss the ball to Malik Mathews for a 48 yard touchdown run.
Wooddale’s first possession ended in an Austin Kelley interception at the 11-minute, 24-second mark. About three minutes later, Kelley had his hands on the football again, this time catching an 21-yard TD pass from quarterback Chase Kidd to make the score 14-0.
Wooddale (1-7, 0-5) settled down and climbed their way back into the contest. Still in the first quarter, the Cardinals of Shelby County got on the scoreboard when Myrone Kimber caught an 11-yard touchdown from Jerry Craine to make the score 14-6.
With 33.4 seconds remaining in the opening period, Wooddale scored again when Craine located standout receiver Andre Golden on fourth down and one-yard in the back of the end zone to make the score 14-12.
The second quarter had less fireworks with only Wooddale scoring a touchdown in the period when Jaylon Burrus broke loose for touchdown. Brighton received three points from a Nolan Combs 37-yard field goal. The Cardinals of Wooddale were ahead 18-17 at the break.
“I challenged the offensive line at halftime,” Brighton senior lineman Drake Grimes said. “‘Let’s get behind Zach and push him upfield.’ I think it was the fourth play after halftime.’ Zach got stood up and fumbled the ball. We pushed him 10 yards up the field. So one of our players grabbed the ball and took it to the house. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The Grimes’ strategy started to work in the third quarter, kind of, when Camp took a handoff and the ball came loose. Aaron Alston picked up the ball and raced to the end zone from 60 yards out to give Brighton a 24-18 lead.
Wooddale regained the advantage later in the third quarter when Golden caught another touchdown pass. Craine added the two-point conversion to make the score 26-24 in favor of Wooddale.
The fourth quarter came and belonged to Camp and his offensive line. Brighton drove down the field and Camp crossed the goal line from 7 yards out to make the score 30-26.
Camp said he was glad to live up to the challenge of his classmate Grimes. The senior running back/linebacker said it takes time to earn that kind of trust from your teammates.
“It’s been a long and hard journey playing football these four years,” Camp said. “Just showing up to practice and workouts everyday, it makes you a leader on the team. And you’ve got to put the ball in the hands of your leaders when the times come.”
Brighton increased it’s lead with 4 minutes and 55 seconds left in the contest when Alston caught a 12-yard pass in the back of the end zone. Combs’ extra point made the score 37-26.
Wooddale had some fight left driving down the field and scoring with slightly more than 3 minutes remaining. Burrus crossed the goal line for the second time in the game. The Cardinals added two points to make the score 37-34. After the Wooddale score, Camp issued himself another challenge.
“I knew we had to get those first downs so we could kneel the ball and win the game,” he said.
The Brighton offense closed out the game with Wooddale out of timeouts. Camp and his offensive line powered the ball down field running out the clock.
Wooddale moves on to play Kirby next week. Meanwhile the Tipton County showdown between the Cougars and the Cardinals is set for 7 p.m. in Brighton this Friday.
“Everybody knows what we have to do,” Grimes said. “We have to stay calm in the heat of the moment. We had to do what we know what to do.”
Camp said the week leading up to the showdown with their county rivals will be business-like.
“We’re a pretty close knit family on this football team,” he concluded. “We have trust for each other. So we’re going to go out there and do our best.”