By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In one of the most entertaining game of 2015, the Brighton Cardinals survived in Halle Stadium 37-34 over the Wooddale Cardinals.
It took a team-effort for the Cardinals of Tipton County to outlast the hungry Wooddale squad. The Cardinals of Shelby County were paced by the record-breaking explodes of Andre Golden.
The receiver with “The Golden Touch” finished the 2015 season with 1,450 yards receiving, 78 receptions and 13 touchdowns.
Against Brighton that night, Golden pulled down several big catches scoring a couple of touchdowns. But he left the field heartbroken.
“That was the game for us to win to have a chance to make it to the playoffs,” he recalled. “So that lost really hurt. It let us down and it ended our hopes. I left the field wanting them to know there wasn’t anybody in Tipton County who could hold me.”
Now the rest of Tipton County outside of the campus of Brighton High School has to worry about holding Mr. Golden. The talented wide out has joined the roster of the team that ended his playoff hopes last season.
Now returning quarterback Malik Jackson is happy to have one of the most dangerous weapons in Tennessee on his side.
“He’s going to help us on offense,” he said. “All I have to do is throw it his way.”
Jackson will have multiple options this season on offense in addition to Golden. Some of the key returning Cardinals in skill positions will be Malik Mathews and Aaron Austin. Last season they played a key role in Brighton finishing as the district champions.
“I will tell you it’s much better being the hunted than that hunter in one aspect,” Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs said. “It’s a good feeling to get up off the deck like that coming from 2-8. I didn’t quite expect 9-1. That’s a good spot to be in.”
Jacobs said locker room, practice and game leadership was crucial to Brighton’s turnaround from 2014 to 2015. And for continued success in 2016, the Cardinals will need to build on that.
“Leadership — we won several games by a touchdown or a field goal,” Jacobs recalled. “The year before that, we lost a lot of those by a field goal or touchdown. I hope we don’t split the difference this year. But leadership will play a large role. I don’t know if it is as strong as it was last year. Some of these guys will have to grow into that role.”
Jackson said he is ready to be the leader Brighton needs.
“I prove to people I can do it last year,” he said. “ I can step up when we’re down.”
Golden said he will be a reliable piece in the puzzle for Brighton and will help them get over that First Round playoff hump.
“Since they were 9-1 last year, I feel I can bring something to the table to help them go further,” he said. “I want Malik to know, he can throw it anywhere and I’ll go get it.
“We can handle the pressure,” Golden concluded. “We have the O-line to do it. The receivers to do it and the quarterback to do it.”