Consider the first test of the high school football season passed with flying colors.
Branson and Reeds Spring competed in a jamboree on Friday night at Branson’s Pirate Stadium, along with Lebanon and Aurora.
Each team ran 12 plays against each of the other three teams. There was no score kept, but the main objective for each was reached: No injuries.
“We stayed healthy, which is the No. 1 thing we want to do,” Branson coach Anthony Hays said. “We got everybody some reps tonight, we subbed early and often. That’s fun, to get some of your younger kids out there on a Friday night with the lights on at home.
“I thought some kids stepped up.”
The Pirates subbed aggressively, playing their first-teamers for only about four plays against each opponent.
There were some notable efforts for the host team in its initial session against Aurora, including a fumble recovery by Austin Hadaller, a nice stop on a QB keeper by Jay Hill, then an interception by Hill on a pass into the flat on the next play.
When Branson went on offense against Aurora, quarterback Dalton Muenchau hit Ethan Jones for a 23-yard gain on third-and-long, then Muenchau hit Ty Werling for a 9-yard TD on the next play.
“I thought overall there was some really good things, we had a small glimpse of our first team there, and I liked what I saw,” Hays said.
“I think we have some good things we can build on, confidence-wise, and there’s some glimpses of some really great things, and some things we got some film on that we can correct.”
Carter Jenkins turned in a big defensive play during Branson’s scrimmage against Reeds Spring, pulling down an interception with a nice play on a pass down the middle.
Both of the candidates for the starting QB job for the Pirates – Muenchau and Tristian Pierce – saw action, and Hays said he is not ready to name a starter for Friday’s season opener against Republic.
“Tonight was a big evaluation for me,” Hays said. “Film tells the whole story – I could make a decision based on what I saw live, but I’ll watch the film and evaluate the guys. They will both continue to get reps in practice next week, and how they compete at practice.
“I will probably make a decision next Thursday … delay it as long as possible.”
Reeds Spring had a nice offensive series against Branson, with Colton Cramblett picking up a first down on a hard-fought, 11-yard run, then after a 12-yard run by Prestin Lehew was wiped out by a penalty.
J.T. Baliff finished the drive with a 7-yard TD on a run up the middle.
The Wolves experienced more success against Aurora.
Reeds Spring’s first offensive drive included a 12-yard run by quarterback Lukas Deaton on a keeper, a 13-yard run around right end by Adam Lewis, then a 15-yard TD run by Steven Youngblood.
Defensively, Caden Sadler made a nice stop on a QB keeper around the left side, then Landon Fleetwood broke up a pass on a leaping play down the right sideline, and the possession ended with a fumble recovery.
“There were flashes where we played really well, and then because we’re really young, we had some stretches where we lost our focus at times,” Reeds Spring coach Lance Gosch said. “All those things can be fixed.
“The last two weeks, the kids have been working hard, and they deserve an opportunity to play. I think we got everybody in, and that was a goal.”
Friday’s Week 1 Games
Republic at Branson
Hollister at East Newton
Reeds Spring at Nevada
Forsyth at Skyline