By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent years under head coaches Will Wolfe and now Robin Jacobs, the Brighton Cardinals have enjoyed success.
From Region champions to a 10-win season in 2011, Brighton added to the folklore last season with a 9-1 record and district title.
Since 2010 the names of offensive Cardinal standouts reads like a Who’s Who of West Tennessee. Some of the stars have been Danny Potter, Bradley Stewart, Ricky Foster and Zack Camp to name a few.
Last season emerging as the next go-to Cardinal on offense was all-purpose running back Malik Mathews Entering 2016, the senior skill player will be one of Brighton’s leaders on and off the field.
“It feels good to be here — senior year,” Mathews said. “From my sophomore year to my junior year there was a big chance. We went from 2-8 to switching it around to 9-2. The biggest difference was teamwork and leadership. We worked hard together as a team.”
Mathews’ sophomore campaign was a year of transition. As he was getting used to the varsity game, the entire program was adjusting to life after Will Wolfe.
Jacobs’ 2014 Cardinals were competitive but seem to come up on the short end of decisions. Then behind the timely running of Mathews, the 2015 Brighton squad pulled out the close games leading to a championship.
Mathews had a big score in the showdown game against Munford last season leading to Brighton winning district.
While the senior class led the way in 2015, those players trusted Mathews to be in the mix in order to win.
“Last year’s seniors taught us mostly about leadership,” he said. “I did learn a lot from them. It felt good to be the guy they can count on. I waited my time for that.”
Now Jacobs and staff are asking Mathews to be one of the leaders for Brighton in 2016. Mathews has been stepping up in that role working with quarterback Malik Jackson, junior wide out Aaron Alston and newcomer Andre Golden.
“Our offense can be real good this year,” Mathews said. “We have a lot of guys to look out for. Andre Golden, Aaron Alston, Malik Jackson and upcoming sophomore running back Andrew Brooks. I’m going to teach them about hard work.”
Mathews said as long as all the Cardinals work hard, they should be able to defend their title and keep the tradition of Cardinal success going.
“We’re just going to play,” he said. “We’re not going to let anything get into our heads. We’re going to play one snap, one play at time.
“We have to keep in our mind we can’t let anything get into our heads,” Mathews concluded. “We have to keep a level mind”