WILLIAMSBURG — “Friday Night Lights” is a series looking in on area high school football programs ahead of the 2023 season.
The home of the Panthers, Bruton High School football is focused on creating a winning mindset for the 2023 football season.
BHS Football Head Coach Barrington Morrison returns for his third season. After leading the team to a 5-5 record last year, Morrison is gearing up to build on the success of last season.
Morrison and his coaching staff led the Panthers to snap a 21-game losing streak during his very first game as head coach. Snapping that streak allowed the team a chance to realize that it can be successful with hard work.
“Our first game as a coaching staff was our very first game that we won after the 21-game losing streak. It was our home opener, we’re losing with five minutes left in the game, we come back and win in the last minute of the game with a team majority of freshmen,” Morrison said.
During his first season, much of Bruton’s roster was stacked with freshmen. In his third season, Morrison’s group of rising juniors have seen their hard work and dedication pay off within the community.
“From winning that game, kids from surrounding middle schools put their faith in Bruton. A lot of people are coming here now. We’re not the laughingstock of Williamsburg anymore. We have earned some respect for our football team and that is really good for the players in terms of confidence,” Morrison said.
Bruton returns many key players to the gridiron this fall. Returnees include offensive lineman Noah Hodges, multiuse player Emmet Robinson, defensive back Brandon Freeman, and wide receiver Peter Henderson. Incoming freshman Anthony Henderson already boasts two Division I football offers from Marshall University and Hampton University.
Six seniors graduated from the program, including Trey Corbin, the leading rusher in Hampton Roads.
In 2022, Bruton snapped its postseason appearance drought. Looking ahead to 2023, Morrison hopes to make a run at the playoffs and win the regional title.
“We want to win some Bay River games, but ultimately win the region. We can compete in our region but we have our rival teams. I always tell the kids about realistic expectations. Of course, we all want to win a state championship and
be the best team in Virginia, but there are always steps. Conquer the small goals and those lead to the bigger goals,” Morrison said.
While being competitive is important, Morrison and his coaching staff encourage the players to win together.
“If we’re good as a team, more players individually get recognized. More colleges are interested in you because you are winning and they want to see what you are about and how you use your leadership skills on the team. We take it step by step and follow the process and know that there aren’t any shortcuts to success,” Morrison said.
During the 2023 season, Coach Morrison said he is taking it one game at a time, noting each game is a competition and a fight until the clock reaches 0:00.
“Our Bay River games are always tougher being that we are a small program. When we play Bay River teams, they usually have about 500 more kids in their school, which equates to about 25 more players on their football team. We want to win them all, but we take it step-by-step,” Morrison said.
Being a small school like Bruton, often, student-athletes compete in more than one sport during the school year. Many of the coaches work collaboratively with each other and have a shared message of ‘believe now.’
“We encourage our kids to believe in the moment they are in. Believe now that you can be good enough to beat this team, believe now that you can reach your goals, even beyond sports,” Morrison said.
Bruton’s away opponents this season include Nandua, West Point, Grafton, Tabb and York high schools. Bruton’s home opponents include Northampton, Northumberland, Arcadia, Poquoson and New Kent high school.
Game one of the 2023 football season for Bruton High School kicks off at home against Northampton High School on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.