When the ball is kicked off Friday night in Brighton for the Cardinals’ first round Class 5A state playoff game vs. Dyer County, it will have been exactly 28 days since Brighton has played a game.
Last Monday, on a beautiful fall afternoon, Brighton’s players and coaches could be found where they’ve been spending a ton of time lately: at practice.
Junior quarterback Nick Harvell was practicing handoffs to sophomore running back Braxton Sharp during a two-minute drill, the coaches were coaching and the sun was shining.
Game night is a player’s reward for a hard week of practice. What’s it been like with no game nights lately?
“I don’t really have a problem with it,” Harvell said. “The more practice you have you’re going to be ready. We’ve had more time to put more stuff together. I don’t have any problem with practice.”
“We would have liked to have played more games, but it’s okay because we’re out here getting repetition and making sure everything is perfect because the playoffs is where it really matters,” said senior tight end Bryce Chaco.
If there is a silver lining to this unprecedented season it’s the playoffs, a place Brighton has not been since 2017 when the Cardinals made a run to the semifinals. This will be the first trip to the postseason for this year’s seniors.
“My class, we’ve never been to playoffs,” Chaco said. “For us to make the playoffs and have a home game, that’s big … I think it’s going to be great. We’ve been out here pushing and working very, very hard these last couple of weeks. To be honest, this is probably some of the best practicing we’ve had all season.”
Head coach Mike David said he hasn’t any trouble keeping his players motivated while not playing games.
“This is uncharted territory for us,” David said. “You don’t usually have a three- to four-week bye towards the end of the season. It’s definitely different. I think our coaches and players have handled it well. We’ve been very focused on getting ready for the playoffs and we see this as a great opportunity Friday night .. A lot of coaches wouldn’t mind a three-week session in the middle of the season to work on things and we got it.”
Brighton (5-5) has had plenty of time to get ready for Dyer County (7-3), which it beat in the first round in 2017. The brackets were all but set three weeks ago. The same is true for Dyer County, of course, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
Despite four weeks with no games, David said he expects his team to hit the field running.
Is Harvell worried about having to shake of some rust?
“No sir, not really,” he said. “It’s all about your mindset.”