Tournament MVP Andrew Young (38) celebrates with teammates after Branson won the Border Battle championship last July. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday.

Twenty-four football teams will descend on Branson High School on Thursday for the second annual Border Battle 7-on-7 Tournament.

The festivities will begin at 1:30 p.m., with a tournament rules meeting at midfield at Pirate Stadium, a message from the Pro Football Hall of Fame (a participating sponsor this year) and guest speaker John Earle, a former offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Earle came out of Western Illinois and played five seasons of professional football, for five NFL teams and the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League.

Earle played for the Cincinnati Bengals (1992), Kansas City Chiefs (1992-93), New England Patriots (1993), Atlanta Falcons (1994) and St. Louis Rams (1996), and won a Grey Cup championship with the Stallions in 1994. 

The 7-on-7 rules call for 20-minute games, with no running plays. There is no blocking offensively, and “tackles” will be one-hand touch, below the neck.

Teams start possession at the opponent’s 35-yard line, and quarterbacks have four seconds to throw the ball for each play. Touchdowns are six points, with the option of going for a one-point PAT from the 5-yard line, or two-point conversions from the 10-yard line.

Interceptions are worth two points for the defense. Possessions change after each score, turnover on downs or interceptions.

Round-robin competition starts at 2:30 p.m., on eight fields at Branson High School and nearby Buchanan Intermediate School.

Each team will play five round-robin games, then the top teams will advance to the finals in two divisions, for third-place games and championship games at Branson High School. The final round is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Branson won last year’s Border Battle, defeating Bentonville (Arkansas) West in the finals.

The 12-team Black Division field for this year’s event includes Branson, Bolivar, Harrison (Arkansas) Mt. Vernon, Marshfield, Springfield Glendale and West Plains.

The Red Division features Springfield Catholic, Bentonville (West), Houston and Yellville (Arkansas).

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