2017 Defensive Football Player of the Year: Central’s Bright has record-breaking season

Central's Varsey Bright leaps to intercept this pass intended for Buffalo Gap's Ryan Wilcher during the Region 2B quarterfinals Nov. 10 against Buffalo Gap in Woodstock. Bright had a school-record 12 interceptions this season for the Falcons. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Central’s Varsey Bright made the most of his return to the school this season.

The Central senior safety led the area and set a school record with 12 interceptions for the Falcons this season.

“My first time playing safety and (Central) coach (Mike Yew) basically told me if you see the ball in the air just go get it,” Bright said. “I just had that engraved in my head and that’s what I did every time.”

Bright, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2017 Defensive Football Player of the Year, also had 27 tackles in leading the Falcons to an 11-1 record.

Bright had always played at cornerback, but said he really liked being moved to safety this season.

Yew said playing at safety was a perfect fit for the athletic Bright.

“He just had a knack for the ball,” Yew said. “He has a good moxie as far as finding the ball as far as reading. And when the quarterback turns his shoulders and turns his head he knew where to go. And he really just was really smart about keeping everything in front of him.”

Bright said he was definitely surprised by how many interceptions he had this season.

The senior had three in the first game of the year, he also had three in a game against Riverheads late in the regular season.

Late in the game during Central’s 21-6 victory over Riverheads on Oct. 27, Bright had what he and Yew both said were there most memorable of Bright’s interceptions.

In the final minute of the game with Riverheads driving, Bright battled Riverheads’ wide receiver Drew Bond for a ball in the end zone. Bright leaped up and came down with the interception of quarterback Tyler Smith’s pass to seal the win. Riverheads went on to win the Class 1 state title.

“Honestly, I was beat on the play,” Bright said. “I played corner on that play, and I was beat. I just jumped up and grabbed the ball. I think we fought for it for a little bit, and I came up with it.”

Bright said he also made a one-handed interception in the Falcons’ playoff victory over Buffalo Gap that stood out to him as well.

Bright said breaking the school record meant a lot to him.

“That’s what I always wanted was to have a piece of me left in the school in whatever sport I played,” Bright said. “I wanted a piece of me left. And I think that’s a pretty big achievement for me.”

Another big achievement for Bright was being a part of Central’s undefeated regular season. The Falcons went 10-0 in the regular season for the first time in school history.

“We made history,” Bright said. “We scored over 450 points. We had a great season. We dominated every team, executed like every Friday night. And just the way the season went we would have never guessed the season would have went the way it did.”

The Falcons lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual Class 2 state runners-up Robert E. Lee.

Bright not only made an impact on defense, but also on offense. Bright played at wide receiver and had 21 catches for 470 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball some, racking up 172 yards on 11 carries with four scores.

Bright said he started playing football in 8th grade. He played for Central for three years, before transferring to Moorefield High School in Moorefield, West Virginia last year.

Bright said that he only played three games for the Yellow Jackets before suffering a season-ending collarbone injury.

Bright returned to Central this season for his senior year and said he has no regrets.

“My mom believed that I should graduate with the kids I grew up with and with the coach I grew up with and so I decided to come back home,” Bright said. “I was thankful I did, because I missed my friends. I missed the family down here, the coaches all of them. So it was good.”

Bright, who is also a standout basketball player for Central, said he hasn’t decided what college he will attend after high school. He said he’s hoping to play football in college.

Bright said his senior football season at Central is one he will always remember.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” Bright said. “For an undefeated season your senior year. You break a school record. Your team does great. You go for a little playoff run. So last game I told the team thank you for allowing me to have a great season. It was all emotional that game, but I couldn’t ask for more. My senior year was great, and I think basketball’s going to be a great season, too.”