Early on in Brighton’s season opener Friday night at home vs. Henry County, the Cardinals, particularly the offense, had some rhythm.
The Cardinals drove down the field on the first possession of the game and Nolan Carson kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Brighton a 3-0 lead. Brighton’s second drive of the game progressed to the red zone, but yielded no points. Brighton moved the ball again on its third possession, but a blocked field goal flipped the field and Henry County took control from there.
While Brighton certainly showed flashes of efficiency, a more experienced Henry County team made some big plays and eventually won, 42-10.
“That blocked field was really the difference,” said Keith Setler, Brighton’s first-year coach. “That was the longest field position flip on a field goal I think I’ve ever seen. That was the turning point in the game.”
Henry County, a team that has made the playoffs 18 straight seasons and won two state titles during that span, did most of its damage via big plays. Javion Boyd returned a kick off 99 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and caught two long (46 and 59 yards) TD passes from Caden Marshall in the first half. Henry County led 35-3 at the half.
Brighton senior quarterback Cade Crowson had an excellent game. He completed 16 of 22 passes, including a 23-yarder to senior Tay Bonner for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Starting the season against one of the state’s best teams with a coach new to the program was a tough task to say the least, but Setler said he saw some positive signs.
“Henry County has been an elite program for a while,” Setler said. “To be honest, I think this is one of the best things that could have happened to us. We may have just played the toughest team on our schedule.”
In the locker room after the game, senior captain Will Comer echoed his coach’s comment.
Comer said: “That’s probably the most physical team we’re going to play all year. It’s probably a good thing we played them early.”
“He recognized that,” Setler said. “That’s a good sign from one of our leaders.”
Things won’t get much easier for Brighton this week. The Cardinals travel to Covington, also historically one of the state’s best teams, on Friday night. Covington also lost its season opener.
“We have to turn our sights toward Covington,” Setler said. “It’s a rivalry game, we’re both 0-1 and we’ll both be looking for a win.”