Branson will need help from unlikely sources, but the Pirates still have hope of a first or second seed in Class 5 District 4 entering Week Seven.
Branson (3-3) heads into Friday’s COC Small Schools home contest with Republic (2-4) fourth in the District standings. If No. 3 Ozark (3-3) and the Pirates are still 3-4 three weeks from now, coach Anthony Hays’ bunch will leapfrog the Tigers based on their win at Ozark three weeks ago.
Springfield Glendale (4-2) is No. 1 and Lebanon (4-2) No. 2.
“We could move up if one of them slips up and we win,” Hays said. “We all could be 4-3 after this week. The District is wide open. We’ll see what happens.”
Glendale has won three straight, including a 51-42 victory versus Lebanon. The Falcons finish with dates against Rolla (3-3), Waynesville (0-6) and Camdenton (5-1).
Lebanon’s remaining schedule includes matchups with Joplin (5-1), Springfield Kickapoo (1-5) and Springfield Parkview (1-5).
Glendale has 38.33 District points, while Lebanon has 33.83, Ozark 30.5, Branson 28.17, Waynesville 18 and Springfield Central (0-6) 13.
Branson would need a sweep of Republic, Willard (3-3) and Webb City (6-0) to have a realistic chance of catching Glendale and Lebanon. The Falcons and Yellowjackets would need to lose two of three to be vulnerable of losing the top two spots.
The top two seeds receive a first-round bye and are awarded a home date for the semifinal round.
As things stand now, Branson would host Central in a first-round District game, with the winner to travel to Lebanon.
“We want to finish as high as we can and set up the stakes for a potential District championship,” Hays said. “I really like how every game means something. The better you do, the better your chances of setting the stage for success in the post-season.
“Right now, we have to beat Republic or none of that stuff is going to matter to us.”
Republic was whipped by Webb City 42-0 and Carl Junction 39-0, but has otherwise been involved in tight games. The Tigers beat Bolivar 34-24, edged Neosho 20-19, lost to Nixa 31-26 and fell to Ozark 14-7.
“This Friday is going to be a competitive night,” Hays said.
Branson can have a winning record in regular-season play with two wins over its final three games. The Pirates’ last winning season was 2010, when they were 7-4.
“That’s a big goal for the kids — they want a winning record," Hays said. "This Friday is a big night toward that goal. Hopefully, we will play inspired and be the best version of ourselves.”
Friday’s game will include ‘Senior Night’ festivities.
“We’re hoping to get another home game for them so this isn’t their last night at Pirate Stadium,” Hays said. “Any time it’s ‘Senior Night,’ you want them to go out on top that night.”
In Class 3 District 4, Reeds Spring (4-2) is No. 3 with 41.17 points and Hollister (2-4) No. 7 with 23.5.
Seneca (6-0) tops the District with 49.33 points, followed by No. 2 Mt. Vernon (5-1) with 42. Cassville (4-2) is No. 4 with 38.85 points, Aurora (3-3) No. 5 with 31.52, Monett (2-4) No. 6 with 26.54 and East Newton (0-6) No. 8 with 14.59.
Reeds Spring currently would fall to No. 4 based on its 39-28 loss to Cassville in Week Two. Mt. Vernon beat the Wolves 35-20 in Week One.
Seneca and Mt. Vernon both have a date remaining with six-time defending Class 2 state champion Lamar (6-0).