The Brighton High School football team is going island hopping this fall, which started Thursday with scrimmages against Nantucket High School followed by a Sept. 14 nonleague rematch of last year’s thriller against Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Though on the field each trip means great football, off the field they serve as a catalyst for the building of new friendships and experiences for each team.
“It gives the kids different opportunities to do things they’ve probably never done before,” said Brighton coach Randolph Abraham. “It’s bonding time, too; the kids become friends with the other players and we all go to the beaches and eat seafood. It’s just a really good experience.”
The Brighton squad departed for Nantucket midday Thursday on the Fast Ferry out of Hyannis Port in Cape Cod. That night, they participated in a strictly passing exhibition with Nantucket, followed by a full scrimmage Friday morning. Following Friday's scrimmage, both teams were treated to a cookout, giving players and coaches alike the opportunity to get to know one another.
In two weeks, Brighton will conclude the island adventure when it kicks off the regular season in a nonleague game against a tough Martha’s Vineyard team. This will be the fifth year Brighton has played the Vineyard, and it has yet to capture a victory.
In last year’s showdown, the Bengals held tough throughout the majority of the game but ultimately fell, 45-38, in a barn-burner at White Stadium. Brighton led, 22-8, at the half and entered the fourth quarter tied at 30, but the Vineyard prevailed after scoring late two more times.
“They outcoached us last year.” Abraham said. “I watched the tape and some of the things they were doing were the pistol and the triple option. The second half was their half.”
For the Brighton players, the opportunity to spend the night camped in the Martha’s Vineyard high school gymnasium was exciting. Senior quarterback Jalen Apperwhite also described the trip as a testament to their development as a football team.
“Just the whole long trip seems to bring the team together,” Apperwhite said. “We’re already close, but it’ll bring us even closer as a team, which will make us better on the field. It builds trust, and we’ll want to do all we can for the person playing next to you.”
Not many city teams are able to say they’ve visited both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard for football, and trips like these are great for city sports. The annual Martha’s Vineyard game provides the Brighton players with a unique opportunity to leave the city for a mini-vacation while improving their game. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends to keep in contact with via social media.
But let’s not forget it’s also a great escape for the coaches, too.
“We really enjoy going down to Martha’s Vineyard,” Abraham said. “I at times leave the kids at the beach with the assistant coaches and go and enjoy a moment alone at a local seafood place.
"It’s a good time. I never would have gone to Martha’s Vineyard if it weren’t for this rivalry.”
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