By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As he waited to hear a final result from Memphis about the Southwind/Ridgeway game, Jacobs called his seniors around him and the coaching staff for a picture. As some parents used their cell phones to capture the moment, others were checking for the final between the Jaguars and Roadrunners.
The news was scouted out, “Ridgeway snapped the ball over the punter’s head. Southwind won 2-0.” That Southwind Jaguar victory meant Brighton was the Region 8-5A champion.
“We could have come out of here No. 4,” a smiling Jacobs said. “I really don’t know. We wanted to play good tonight. We did. We had all of our players back and healthy. We played a great game. Our coaches did a great job of coaching. Our kids did a super job great job of practicing this week.”
The week of worked paid off with a Munford victory and Region title. Southwind (5-5, 5-2) forced a three-way tie in the Region and finished third. The Ridgeway Roadrunners (5-5, 5-2) will be for the fourth seed heading into the playoffs.
And the Cougars (8-2, 5-2) were reward for racking up 8 wins during the regular-season finishing second and will host a postseason game this Friday.
Entering the Tipton County showdown, both the Cougars and Cardinals knew a victory guaranteed a home game. Both squads needed a Ridgeway loss in order to capture the league championship and No. 1 seed.
Jacobs and Offensive Coordinator Mike David had a simple game plan.
“Run the ball,” Jacobs noted. “Which one of them that did it didn’t matter as long as he got yards. Malik, this is the same thing that happened last year when we had two quarterbacks and one got hurt. He came in and did a super job leading us to four straight wins. Tonight he came up big for us.”
Malik Jackson joined forces with his running back Lance West to attack the Munford defense. Brighton mixed in a couple of Aaron Alston reverses to keep the Cougars honest.
A pair of West 5-yard touchdowns gave the Cardinals a 14-3 halftime advantage. Brighton scored on the first drive of the night going 76 yards down the field.
The Cardinals made the tally 14-0 early in the second quarter when West capped off another long drive with a touchdown.
“This was a big game,” West said. “There was a lot of talk about it. We knew what we had to do to get our home seat. We worked hard all week and looked forward to it. We fought hard and won the game.
“Makes me feel good as a person my coaches counted on me,” he added. “I actually have a missed up hip — a hip pointer. I just wanted to be there for my team. And that’s what I did.”
Munford trimmed the deficit to 11 points with a field goal at the end of the half. The Cougars looked to grab more momentum receiving the second half kickoff.
But the Cardinals snatched it away causing a fumble recovered by Alston. Brighton cashed the turnover in at the 8:46 mark when West scored his third touchdown of the night to make the score 21-3.
Munford regrouped using a drive featuring big runs by Noah Robertson to set up a Nathan Davenport 8-yard TD run. The score was 21-10 midway through the third quarter.
The Cougars had a few more chance to cut into the Brighton lead the rest of the second half. Running out of time, Davenport had to go to the air. His fourth down pass last in the fourth quarter missed the target and landed in the hands of Brighton defensive back DeRobert Currie.
“I’m not going to tell a story,” Currie acknowledged. “I was pretty nervous there on that interception. I didn’t know if I was going to catch it or not. But I had faith in myself to make that interception. I made the play.
“We had to play like that because of the way their offense was set up,” he continued. “We had to be smart with the decisions.”
Brighton went to West and used a couple of Jackson keepers to run the clock and win the rivalry game. Minutes later the Cardinals got the news they have earned their second Region title in three years.
“We knew it was a hard schedule coming in,” Jacobs said. “And we didn’t have our players. We played with Aaron. We played without Malik. We had four defensive guys who were out. We knew if we just kept pushing we would be OK. That was probably the biggest thing.”
Brighton suffered a turning point defeat to its over Tipton rival Covington. Jacobs said the Cardinals were forced to come together to save the season.
“About seven weeks ago, we made a team promise of starting our season over,” he said. “We’re 6-1 from that point. We’ve reboot everything. Covington took it to us. They just physically beat us down. That was embarrassing. Maybe that was good for us — our wakeup call.”
Currie said the wakeup call is still in affect because the Cardinals want to end the trend of losing first round playoff games at home. The past two seasons Brighton had early exits courtesy of Clarksville and Henry County.
“We are ready for this playoff run,” Currie concluded. “We have faith in ourselves and we’ll be ready. We’ve been through a lot of hard times — a lot losses. Now we have some wins. We’re in it to win it. We have to stick together going into this.”