By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2017 football season was the most decorated campaign in Brighton Cardinal history.
The cherry on top came on National Signing Day 2018 with Head Coach Robin Jacobs welcoming friends, family, players, staff, faculty and administrators to the commitment of a quartet of Cardinals to Southeast Missouri State University.
Brighton seniors Aaron Alston, Cameron John, Spencer Cartwright and Jordan John will become Redhawks in Tom Matukewicz’s program.
“I’ve never been around anything like it,” Jacobs said. “It’s a great class. To me this speaks well of Brighton High School as far as the academic part and everything that goes with it. Our academic counselors, we’ve learned a lot about how to get them in school. You’ve got to have this and you’ve got to have that. “They’ve been absolutely awesome from the principal to teachers,” he added. “I don’t want to take much credit for this. There are a lot of people who do this.”
Key contributors on hand in the Brighton Gymnasium lobby today were the parents of brothers Cameron and Jordan, Wendell and Jamie John. Aaron had several family members at the event including his mother Sarita Alston.
Bertha and Anthony Cartwright joined Spencer to celebrate him earning a preferred walk-on status with SEMO. Cartwright is a defensive tackle who overcame injury to make an impact late in the season helping Brighton reach the State Semifinals in Class 5A.
Right by his side was Jordan John. He was able to shut down opposing running attacks by clogging the middle. Jordan also has speed to make tackles on the outside. He is heading to SEMO on an academic scholarship.
His brother Cameron earned an athletic scholarship with outstanding play from the defensive end position. Cameron’s speed rush produced several sacks and tackles for loss. He was an AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star in 2017.
Also on that team was Aaron Alston as a receiver. But his defensive work at safety earned Alston an All-State selection. He was snatched up on scholarship by Matukewicz.
Matukewicz just wrapped up his fourth season as Redhawks head coach in 2017. Matukewicz has guided his teams to three wins over nationally-ranked Football Championship Subdivision opponents, the most of any head coach in program history.
The Redhawks play the NCAA Division II’s Ohio Valley Conference.
In their Words:
Head Coach Robin Jacobs
How much did winning help this day be so grand?
They’re going to catch some exposure. We were down to the last for teams. They’re looking at all who’s there. These guys had more schools looking at them than Southeast Missouri. Schools from Kentucky to Missouri and in between were looking at them.
You being a two-sport standout — why the decision to play football at the next level?
-I just really play basketball because I like to dunk and stuff. I’m just looking for my last couple of dunks before I go.
You might go down as the best athlete in BHS history, how does that praise make you fee?
-I just try to help them like they help me. I give them 100 percent like they give me 100 percent – teachers, the principals and coaches. The believed in me.
What got you here today? Why SEMO?
-I’ve just been grinding hard to make my dream come true.
I think it will fit me well. The color, I’m used to. I already went down there for my visit and I loved the area. It’s big and not small. I just really liked the area.
I can’t believe it. Freshman year I would even believe I would be playing college football. But now it’s happening and it’s a good feeling.
What got you to SEMO?
-It feels good because it took a lot of hard work to do this academically and physically.
Your brother Cameron has been featured in publications, but you flew under the radar. What kept you pressing forward?
-We used to talk about it at home. He used to tell me not to give up even though he was getting all the attention and I wasn’t getting any. Then I just kept going with it.
Felt amazing to start making the big-time plays when we needed it. When they call my name I was there to make those plays.
It feels amazing having all this support here. Coach T told us less than one percent go on to play college football. It’s amazing the four of us are going to play at the same college.
Many schools were after you, why did you select SEMO?
-That’s where my family is going. I wanted to be with them. I’ve been playing with Aaron, Cam and Jordan since the sixth grade in middle school and all through high school. I just wanted to be a part of the family.
You overcame an early season injury to get back. Why the determination?
-I just wanted to be a part of the team and make big plays. Then I got hurt and that kind of threw me off my game. But I came back and tried to grind my hardest to go to State.
This is a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this since middle school. I didn’t really start playing until my junior year but I grind through it.