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Colorado Football Magazine recognized three members of the Brighton High School football team as “Players to Watch” this season. Two sophomores — defensive end …
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Colorado Football Magazine recognized three members of the Brighton High School football team as “Players to Watch” this season.
Two sophomores — defensive end Riley Deans, and cornerback and free safety Devin Martin — were featured out of a total of five sophomores statewide.
For Martin, the accolade feeds into his excitement for the start of the football season.
“It’s an honor to be selected to be watched as a sophomore, and it’s going to be a great year,” Martin said. “We have some hard competition coming up. But I think we can do pretty good this year.”
Deans said making the magazine’s list might increase pressure on the players, but his team was worth the higher anticipation.
“As a sophomore, getting selected as a player to watch is really an honor and sets some expectations for all of us to meet who have been selected to watch. And I think we can meet them all,” Deans said. “We have a tough schedule this year, but we have to rise above.”
Middle linebacker Joe Jackson was selected by the magazine as a “Senior to Watch.”
“As a senior, I wish I could have done more as junior to get elected. But as a senior, it’s still a great honor,” Jackson said. “Our first real opening game is against Littleton and they’re always a tough competition, no question about it.”
Last year, Brighton upset the sixth-rated Lions 22-9 at Littleton’s homecoming.
Jackson emphasized that although three individuals were selected, all of the players are successful because of the team’s collaboration.
“We’re going to have to play to our ability. But I think our offense has stepped up a lot since last year,” Jackson said. “Last year we had a little struggle with them. But they’ve really showed us they can be part of varsity. Our defense is getting stronger every minute, every practice, and I think we’re going to do really well this year as a team.”
Head coach Pat Sandoval shares his players’ enthusiasm. But he knows unknown challenges will present themselves when the official season begins.
“The kids, just like any coach would say at this time of year, they’re ready to hit someone else and get it started,” Sandoval said. “We have 12 out of 16 seniors starting, and we have nine returning starters on offense, seven on defense. So we look good on paper. But you know, we got to go play the game.”
Sandoval said the three players recognized in the magazine deserved the honor.
“Riley and Devin, their size and their speed, just being sophomores, is the first eye-catcher for a lot of coaches and maybe scouts. They’re hard workers,” Sandoval said.
Although Jackson doesn’t have the height of the two sophomores, Sandoval said he is just as impressive.
“Joe, he’s not as tall as them, but his play has certainly opened some eyes in the league,” Sandoval said. “He’s a leader, he’s a senior, he works hard. He had 100 percent attendance in the weight room in the offseason.”
Ultimately, Sandoval said the hard work, the talent and the commitment would also need something extra: a little luck.
“We’re ready to go,” Sandoval said. “We just need to stay away from the injury bug and the flu bug and we’ll be OK.”
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