Senior Cristian Berumen carries the ball in Branson's home opener. They fell 42-6 to Nixa.

Branson High School’s home opener ended in a 42-6 loss against Nixa. It is the first home opener loss for the Pirates since 2016, and the first season opener loss for Anthony Hays since he took over as head coach in 2017.

Branson went scoreless until the last 56 seconds of their game against Nixa.

In the last couple minutes of the game, the Pirates had worked their way to the 4 yard line. In the next three plays, they got pushed back to the 11. However, junior Tristan Pierce completed a pass to senior Brady Blackwell to get the Pirates on the board.

Hays said, after tonight, there is a lot the team needs to work on. 

“We’ve got a lot of stuff we need to work on and clean up,” Hays said. “It was kind of just a rough night in every aspect of football – special teams, offense, defense.”

Hays added there have been some circumstances requiring some players to quarantine over the past couple weeks. Several athletes were missing on the field tonight, but Hays said he isn’t using that as an excuse. Instead, he sympathizes with them.

“I just feel for those kids,” Hays said. “They were looking forward to playing their first game, and instead they have to wait a couple weeks. I think that’s just going to be the nature of this season.”

He said they’ve explained to the team that they never know when their number is going to get called and when they’re going to have to step up for the team.

“We have a lot of guys who are going to have to maybe play both ways which we haven’t done a lot lately,” Hays said. “We may even have guys who are going to have to move up from JV to varsity. I think that’s just the nature of what we’re dealing with this season.”

Before next Friday’s game against Ozark, Hays said, overall, they just need to get in better condition.

“Tonight helped,” Hays said. “You kind of play yourself into better condition to a certain extent. And we’ve just got to clean up a lot of mistakes and play cleaner football.”

Hays said there’s a laundry list of things the team needs to take care of this week, and a lot of it deals with small things. 

“We have got to protect the football and just clean up,” Hays said.

The home opener wasn’t all that bad though, Hays said his team finished with a lot of heart.

“I was proud that we were able to finish with a score,” Hays said. “A lot of stuff didn’t go our way all night – really sloppy football and a lot of penalties and turnovers – so, for us to put a drive together and score on the fourth down at the end… I thought that had a lot of heart with Brady Blackwell and that catch he made at the end to score. That was a bright spot”

Branson will play at Ozark next Friday night. The Pirates have beat Ozark twice since Hays took over as head coach, and the one loss was by just a point. Ozark lost their season opener to Carthage 35-14.

In other Tri-Lakes area football action, Reeds Spring shut out East Newton 41-0, Forsyth beat Greenfield 67-12 in Kristopher Conley's first game as coach, and Hollister dropped its opener against Monett 20-13.

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