Posted on April 20, 2017.
By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Brayden Helton took to his usual position this morning.
But instead of the football field, when Helton took to the center of the formation he was holding a pen – not a football.
Brighton Cardinals Head Football Coach Robin Jacobs has trusted Helton the last three years to hike the ball to Cardinal quarterbacks. But today the veteran coach called the play of signing the national letter of intent Bethel University.
Right by Helton’s side as he inked the letter of intent were his family members parents Douglas and Stacey Helton, brother and sister Taylor and Madison respectively and grandparents Stan and Glenda Lee and Charlotte and Arthur Patterson.
The family celebrated in the Brighton Library alongside Cardinals coaches, teammates, friends and administrators.
“I wish he was back for another year,” Jacobs said. “In fact he has snapped every ball since he’s been in the ninth or 10th grade for us. He might have missed one practice with a knee injury. That’s about it.
His leadership and character, he’s one of the best kids you could be around.”
Douglas and Stacey stood in the BHS Library as proud parents reflecting on their son’s gridiron glory that started nearly a decade ago.
“He’s got a chance to do better than I did,” Douglas said. “He has a chance to further his education. He’s getting an opportunity to continue to play ball, which is something he loves. He has always expired to push himself, knowledge is something he has strived for ever since he was a child. If there was a question, he asked it.”
Stacey said her son had no doubts of which sport he wanted to pursue.
“It’s always been football,” she said. “When he was a young child he wanted to play. He started playing in the fifth grade. He decided he was going to school on a football scholarship. Then he said maybe just not football but academics and football. He set his goal and now here we are. He did it.”
Helton earned his scholarship to play for the Wildcats in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference playing varsity since his freshman year. He was an All-District selection and played in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game. Helton, the 2017 Mr. BHS, will play for Bethel Head Coach Chris Elliott.
“I feels very, very good,” Brayden said of his signing. “It’s a lot of relief off my chest today to put my name on that piece of paper.”
Helton said it took family, friends, coaches and teammates to help him reach his dream. The past two season those teammates racked up 16 regular season wins, two playoff appearances and a 2015 district title.
“About the time my senior year rolled around, we had a lot of guys in good places on the team with their maturity to make good decisions on and off the field,” he noted. “My time here was good overall.
“We had a lot of talent and a lot of diverse people in our class,” Helton continued. “A lot of people in our class didn’t get to play as much. We had lot of experience through practice helping get people to the next level. During the games, Malik Mathews is definitely the fastest person I’ve ever seen. Definitely makes a DB work to catch him down the field.”
Helton said he will miss several teammates who will continue the winning ways at Brighton.
“Cameron John is always putting in work at practice,” he said. “He is always making an offensive lineman look like a fool. And Aaron Alston is another one of our receivers. He’s fast and dynamic on both fronts of the ball. Offense or defense he can do it all.”
But as he departs from the program, Helton said he will miss all his line mates like Sam and Tyler.
Stacey said those experiences with the offensive line and the ups and downs of being a Cardinal will help guide her son in McKenzie.
“He’s been a part of winning teams and winning seasons,” she said. “He’s been a part of some losing seasons. He’s taken away from that about what didn’t work and what he needed to improve on. As a team and even as a leader of that team, he learned to encourage and moved forward to do something positive.”
Douglas said how good Brayden’s time at Bethel will be it to be determined.
“We’ll see. I believe he’s going to do great things for them in the classroom and on the football field,” he said. “I hope they will do the same for him. I’m pretty sure they will. They seem to be sincere.
Stacey- They’re going to work for each other. He’s eager to build on something he already knows and carry it forward.”
Jacobs said his former offensive line leader has the pedigree to succeed in a phases in college.
“He’s very deserving of what he’s got,” he said. “His grades are where they need to be. He’s got a very good scholarship. He’s going to be able to go there and have a very good college career and go do some positive things.”
Brayden said he will miss positive and little things that surrounded his football days with the Cardinals.
“I’m going to miss the little things we always talk about in football like waking up at ridiculous times to come workout,” he said. “Doing up-downs when you mess up on a set or rep. Just school in general, they’re all my friends and family. They have become my family. I had to restart when we moved in middle school. Now these are all my friends and family.”
Douglas said he’s not surprised his son developed a strong bond with the Brighton community after taking on such an important role in the program.
“He starts every play,” he said. “Everything revolves around him until he snaps that ball. They can’t move. If they jump, we’re screwed. You get a plenty. He’s driven that team from the day he started.
“He’s always got his hands in the air,” Douglas concluded. “He cheers more than a cheerleader. When it comes to the participants, he talks to the officials. He runs and screams up and down the field. He’s continuously alive and full of energy.”