Preseason training prepares Brighton Football for new region playSep 07, 2023 02:14PM ● By Jerry S. Christensen
Community service is an important part of team dynamics with Brighton Football. (Photo Brighton High School)
Brighton Football braved the heat of the summer to be ready to defend their string of three region championships. The step forward appears to reverse the early state playoff exits which over the last four years have been on the home Freestone Field.
The team started offseason training last February by lifting weights at 6 a.m. “The players, led by Captain Andrew Wood have been working really hard to improve themselves physically and it has showed in the first two games,” said head coach Casey Sutera.
The mid-August opening game was a proper test in the heat of St. George versus the No. 1 team in 4A, Desert Hills. The team preparation proved prescient as the Bengals, coming in from the relative cool of the north, dominated. Donovan Wismer had a breakout game against Desert Hills with two touchdowns. Jack Johnson, senior quarterback, showed his experience by throwing four touchdowns. “The one-two punch of Mason Haertel and Beau LaFleur at running back and the continued growth of our offensive line I think will be huge for our team as the season continues,” Sutera said.
The next game was even hotter against the No. 4 team in the state—6A powerhouse Syracuse. Sutera likes a tough non-conference schedule. “Yeah, we want to play good teams, especially early so we have adversity and can learn and grow,” he said.
The Bengals frustrated the Syracuse Titans until early in the fourth quarter when the Titans eked out a late win. Senior linebacker and captain Miles Morgan took command of the defense and already has three interceptions on the year. Senior defensive linemen Easton Adamson and Kimball Shill have combined for five sacks and 12 tackles for loss in the first two games. The Bengal defensive secondary Siale Ofa, Dylan Thomas, Kai Fuertes, and converted QB Kaden Morzelewski showed promise. TE Myles Peters with three touchdowns in the first two games has been a game changer for offense. And the team is benefiting from solid play of two-year returning starter QB Jack Johnson who, over the summer, was recruited to play for the Georgetown University Hoyas.
In addition to the hard work on the field, the team banded together to help the community during the spring flood preparations. The team filled 2,000 sandbags in disciplined production line precision.
“Coach Sutera genuinely cares about every player, teaching not just football skills, but also invaluable life lessons that will undoubtedly shape their success in college and beyond,” said Amber Shill, Canyons District board member and mother of Brighton senior DB Kimball Shill. “Kimball has been playing since he was 9 years old and he loves being on this team with the positive culture that second-year coach Sutera has cultivated.”
The Shills know a good team chemistry from Kimball’s uncle who played for the U of U and the Miami Dolphins. His grandfather and great grandfather paved the way playing for the U of U.
Good chemistry notwithstanding, can the Bengals win an unprecedented fourth straight Region 6 championship? “The newly reconfigured Region 6 is markedly more competitive with the addition of the Alta Hawks and the West Panthers,” Sutera said. The East Leopards and the Olympus Titans are also well equipped to land the coveted region championship and make their marks at state. West, a new entrant to Region 6 competition, is just coming down from 6A competition where the Panthers advanced to the 6A quarterfinals.
The Deseret News, that had both Olympus and East picked ahead of Brighton last year at this time, has named the Brighton Bengals in preseason polling as the odds-on favorite team to win the new Region 6 championship. λ