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Next Level? Cardinals look to advance further in 2017

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Brighton Cardinal defensive standouts Josh Dupuis, Nick Chamberlain, Cameron John, Hunter Twisdale and Spencer Cartwright.

Brighton Cardinal defensive standouts Josh Dupuis, Nick Chamberlain, Cameron John, Hunter Twisdale and Spencer Cartwright.

Brighton senior Malik Jackson will be the man in charge of the offense in 2017 at quarterback.

Brighton senior Malik Jackson will be the man in charge of the offense in 2017 at quarterback.

When the Class of 2018 walked onto the Brighton High School campus back in 2014, the football program was undergoing a transition from the Will Wolfe Era.
Wolfe departed for Hernando, Miss., to rebuild the Tiger program. Longtime Brighton Football coach Robin Jacobs inherited the Cardinal reigns. The group of baby-faced freshmen stood by as the Cardinals endured a sub .500 season.
Then it was their turn to contribute and restore Brighton Football in 2015 with the help of seniors like Zach Camp,  Drake Grimes, Austin Kelley and more.
The Cardinals won the league championship with a 9-1 record. Last season the winning ways continued with a 7-4 mark and another playoff appearance.
But just like 2015, the 2016 season ended in the first round. Brighton dropped an overtime thriller 41-40 to the Henry County Patriots to exit the postseason.
Now the Class of 2018 has 27 representatives ready to break the playoff jinx with players like Aaron Alston, Cameron John, Malik Jackson and Nicholas Chamberlain.
“Before we think anything about playoffs, we have to take care of business in the regular season,” Chamberlain said. “If we lock up that one-seed, then we’ll be in pretty good shape. Home field advantage would make it a lot easier to get pass that first round.”
While Chamberlain will be one of the anchors on defense, the offense will be lead by Jackson. The senior signal caller has shared the duties the past two seasons.
Head Coach Jacobs said he won’t have to look over his shoulders in 2017. Jackson was the man leading the comeback against Henry County once the Cardinals fell behind. He picked a part the Patriot defense using his running ability and taking advantages of his weapons.
The loss has motivated Jackson to improve on and off the field.
“We have to make up for our mistakes,” he said. “I think we’ll be pretty good with this offense. We have a lot of receivers and a couple of good running backs. All of them can catch the ball and we have a great line. I feel pretty good not having to look over my shoulders this year.”
The Cardinals will spread the field going two-deep at each receiver position. And Jackson will feature running backs like Lance West in the attack to keep defenses honest.
While Brighton feels comfortable trying to outscore any opponent, the Cardinal Power attack will feature a solid front-seven.
“We have an amazing defense coming back this year,” Chamberlain said. “Our defensive line will be extraordinary. I think our linebackers will be good. Coach Wampler has allowed me to take over the defense a little bit, call some of the plays from the linebacker position.
“Our defensive line will help us out a lot by eating up blocks allowing us to come in free,” the senior linebacker added.
Brighton’s defense will be challenged from Game One welcoming Houston to town Aug. 18. Then another non-league contest will be tough when Brighton travels to Dyersburg the following week.
The rivalry game with Covington will be Sept. 8 and then the rest of the schedule will bring Region foes.
Joining Brighton, Bolton, Kirby, Overton, Southwind and Munford will be Memphis teams Kingsbury and Ridgeway. The Roadrunners enter the league as a traditional power in West Tennessee.
“We never get picked to win the league and that’s something that hurts us,” Chamberlain acknowledged. “It gets up under our skin. Ridgeway loss 30-something seniors and are still picked to win the league. But if we take care of business it will be down to us. And I will guarantee we’ll want it more.”
With the bitter taste of two straight early exits in their beck, the Cardinals are working toward flying higher in 2017.
“Details are something we’ve been preached on to,” Chamberlain concluded. “Taking care of the little things and to make sure we do all the little things right. We have a lot of athletes here. We have a ton of returning starters. If can get all the little details down, we can go far.”

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