Brighton football dominates Region 6Nov 01, 2022 07:19PM ● By Jerry Christensen
By Jerry Christensen | [email protected]
The unheralded Brighton football program, with a new coach, was picked by no media outlet to successfully defend its Region 6 title. Olympus, Skyline, East and Park City were more likely to knock out the championship. The early August start seemed to confirm the prediction as Brighton fell to 4A powerhouse Desert Hills. However, coach Casey Sutera took the sting of the 0-1 start and used it as motivation to end the regular season on a nine-game winning streak.
Brighton is 9-1 going into the postseason and is the “three-peat” Region 6 champions.
“This team has done a great job with the process, whether it’s in season lifting or on the practice field our players have continued to work hard and improve,” Sutera said.
Brighton standouts lead Region 6 in four key statistical categories: Nash Matheson, JR WR, has both the most receptions (64) and receiving yardage (928 yards); Jack Johnson, JR QB, earned most yards gained (2,450); and Kace Gurr, SR RB, scored most points in the region (90) and also scored the most touchdowns in the region (17).
Non-region 5A opponent Woods Cross proved to be an early-season defensive turning point for Brighton. The double overtime win came down to two critical goal line stands that tested the skills of senior captain Mana Nonu and freshman defenseman Ami Moala. Not only did the defense line hold on the one-yard line for four downs, they forced a fumble on fourth down and ran it up field 20 yards.
Sutera had such confidence in the defense that he called a gutsy midfield punt with a minute left and the score tied. The calculated gamble was that the Bengal defense would hold and transition the game to overtime periods. Sutera was rewarded for the risk. The defense not only held, but also held on the one-yard in the second overtime period to gain the dramatic victory.
“I have been very proud of the resiliency of this team during this regular season. We have had quite a bit of adversity in almost every game we played this year and we have handled it very well,” Sutera said.
The team shocked East High on the arm of Jack Johnson, Brighton’s junior quarterback. The Leopards were the preseason pick by the Deseret News to be region champions. However, the title-clinching game came on the homecoming game in late September when both defense and offense peaked.
On Sept. 30, the Park City High School Miners came to Cottonwood Heights looking for vengeance for Brighton edging them out of the region title on the last game of the regular season last year. Just before halftime, the Miners looked unstoppable with a 33-14 lead. It became a tale of two halves as Brighton’s defense stiffened to allow no more Miner scoring in the last 32 minutes of the game. The offense matched the defense intensity and scored the next 33 points to thrill the near-capacity crowd with a 47-33 win. The region title and the three-peat was secured. Many players on senior night cited the “Park City comeback” as the highlight of their four years in the Brighton football program.
“I have been proud of our poise especially in some of the big games we played in the region,” Sutera said.
The rare three-peat caps the high school career for Brighton’s 27 senior players who have fought hard over the last several years. The state tournament could be the payoff for the years of steady progress.
“I like where we are as a team,” Sutera said, “and I’m excited to see what we can do in the postseason.”