HEAD COACH: Keith Setler (1st season)
LAST YEAR: 3-7
RETURNING STARTERS: 5 offense, 5 defense
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: QB Cade Crowson, RB Pierce Mecham, DB Hunter Lampley, WR Taylon Carpenter, LB Ethan Hector, OL Will Comer
KEY PLAYERS LOST: RB Ty Stark, DB Keagan Jarmon, OL Matthew Parker, OL Jayvon Lee
Not even halfway through the 2022 season, the Brighton Cardinals were down to their fourth-string quarterback.
The first and only season for Morgan Cruce as the leader of the flock was off to a disastrous start. When the dust settled, Brighton was 3-7 and out of the playoffs.
Returning players Pierce Meacham, Hunter Lampley and Taylon Carpenter described last season in one word — chaotic.
“Chaos is the best word to describe last season,” Meacham said.
The junior running back said things have settled down in Brighton with the arrival of new Head Coach Keith Setler.
“I like Coach Setler,” he continued. “I like his style of coaching. We’ve changed things around here for sure and for the better.”
Senior athlete Lampley said the important lessons from 2022 are still around to help the Cardinals persevere this upcoming season.
“We learned adaptability,” he noted. “When things go bad and get tough, you have to learn how to roll with it and go forward. It was a good life lesson. Anything comes our way, we can handle it.”
Lampley will be one of the leaders on the Cardinal defense as a safety. He will be joined by junior Carpenter placing all the Brighton defenders in the right spots.
“Practice, we are more healthy,” Carpenter said. “Most practices we are more focused on. We’re more locked in and now practices are going smoother. Defensive, offensive and special teams, overall things are going good.”
The offense will be led by senior quarterback Cade Crowson. He was the first to suffer a season-ending injury in 2022 with a broken leg.
Crowson has healed and learned the new offense of Setler.
“I love how our offense is coming along with all our pieces,” Meacham said. “We’re going to throw a lot at defense — expect to be surprised. This offense can do everything when healthy.”
Lampley and Carpenter will see some snaps on that side of the ball as well at receiver.
The offensive line will have anchors Will Comer and Daniel Tate.
On defense Carpenter and Lampley said players like teammate Ethan Hector will live up to the new motto.
“I want to see our physicality improve,” Lampley declared. “We struggled last year with guys being hesitant to jump into the play. We have to get into folks’ faces.
“Maybe we were a little hesitant last year because we started the season without a defensive coordinator,” he acknowledged. “You’re kind of in there like, ‘Hey what’s going on?’ We enter this year with a little bit more confidence and a game plan.”
Carpenter said having true leadership on the sideline and accountability on the field will improve the defense.
“We need to be more physical,” he said. “We also need to be more disciplined and everyone needs to take care of their job. Not rushing the play like a chicken with your head cut off. We have to be more disciplined and physical.”
The Cardinals feel the key to a successful 2023 is staying healthy. The nightmare 2022 has let Brighton down the depth chart of expectations behind their Tipton County neighbors Covington and Munford.
“It’s kind of to be expected if we’re going to be honest,” Lampley said. “You can’t expect to be put high on a pedestal after a 3-7 season.
“But it doesn’t really matter to us what other people think about us,” he concluded. “It only matters what we think about ourselves at this point. It’s just a team mentality right now. Screw what everybody else thinks, let’s go out and ball on our own terms.”