Just in case the Brighton Cardinals wanted to forget about the 35-0 defeat courtesy of the Dyersburg Trojans Aug. 27, the BHS coaching staff was going to give them a lasting impression.
Also during Week 2, the Millington Trojans were in Tipton County suffering a 29-3 loss to the rival Munford Cougars.
Both the Trojans and Cardinals were in Millington Friday night for a bounce-back showdown. It was the visiting Cardinals who eventually flew away with a 36-0 victory.
“When we lost, that was the worst week of my life,” Cardinal senior defender Gavin Haynes said. “I don’t want to go back to that. Coach (Troy) Brewer really got on us. I would rather win every game than see Coach Brewer the next day, 100 percent. I will stay in there and do what I am told.”
The Cardinals (2-1) did enough of what they were instructed to achieve their second shutout of the year.
Brighton and the Trojans were scoreless after 12 minutes of action. Early in the second quarter the Cardinals finally got on the scoreboard when Ty Stark took a handoff 40 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. Quarterback Nick Harvell added the two-point conversation to make the tally 8-0 with 9:48 left in the first half.
Brighton’s next score came less than a minute later courtesy of the defense. With Haynes roaming all over the field as a middle linebacker, standing defensive end and weak side defender, he was in the right spot at the 8:55 mark of the second quarter.
“I have to give a shout out to Big Levi Latimer, big No. 30,” he said. “He ripped the ball out and it was all slow-mo. It was all I could see. I picked it up and took it. I got tracked down, but I still scored. I felt like Derrick Henry running the ball, big boy.”
Haynes’ trip to the end zone led to a 16-0 Brighton advantage. Over the next few minutes, the Trojans (0-3) matched the Cardinals play for play, but Millington turnovers and inexperience in the interior defense inspired the veteran secondary to gamble on making a big play.
Brighton saw this trend in the Trojan defense and exposed it when Harvell hit Tyler Todd on a 33-yard TD pass right before halftime. Todd was not touched racing to the end zone to make the score 24-0.
“We finally got everything together we’ve been trying to do,” Todd said. “As long as we keep playing up to our full potential, we can go, sky is the limit.
“What really happens before every game I have that nervous feeling,” the sophomore added. “Then after a couple of plays, I get in my rhythm and it always goes away. But I am really comfortable out here now.”
It was another Todd TD catch in the fourth quarter from 19 yards out that made the tally 30-0. Stark scored a second touchdown as well with an 8-yard touchdown run.
“They were a lot bigger than us, more athletic than us and faster than us,” Millington head coach Chris Michael said. “That’s a battle we’re going to face every Friday night with our schedule. This was a pick up game. We were not playing MLK Prep, so it’s going to be a definite huge challenge for our team.”
“We knew we had to get better in our interior line because we were absolutely horrible against Munford,” he continued. “We didn’t come off the ball. We were slow and we were lazy. We were not anything that resembled an offensive line unit. So we challenged them this week. We did do better but we have a long way to go.”
Michael noted the yo-yo scheduling is frustrating to the coaches, but his young players are being frustrated by the growing pains on the field.
“You couldn’t gain any momentum because we had eight turnovers,” he said. “You can’t beat anybody with eieght turnovers. We couldn’t beat a freshman team or middle school team turning over the ball eight times.”
Some of that is to be expected with a freshman quarterback (McCoy Pugh). They’ve got two weeks of film on him now.
“They know he’s throwing the slant successfully,” Michael added. “We knew they were going to take that away from him. So we tried to work on the passing game through the week. He just put the ball were he didn’t need to. Missed a lot of open throws. Not that he threw them, but passes he should have thrown that he didn’t throw. It’s a growing process with the quarterback.”
Part of the frustration for Pugh Friday night was the Cardinal defense. Haynes’ No. 33 jersey might pop up in Pugh’s dreams with the senior lining up all over the field making plays.
“It’s hard I promise you that,” Haynes acknowledged. “Coach believes in me and I believe in me. Coach believes in me 100 percent and that’s why I feel comfortable, but I really don’t like it. He knows I can do it and I believe him every time so I go out there and do what I am told. I go out there do what I can do possibly mentally and physically.”
Michael said his underclassmen are gaining a valuable lesson mentally and physically with each down.
“We’re getting a lot of exposure,” he concluded. “It’s really good in a lot of cases. Our ninth and 10th graders out there on the field are finding out what it is like to be out there in the trenches and in real battles against real good football teams. It is real good experience for our younger kids.”