It was definitely one for the history books as the Branson/Kim Bearcats proved their mettle with a 61-7 win over the Colorado D&B Bulldogs in the first varsity football game ever played in Branson on September 2.
And the crowd loved it! They came from Branson and the outlying ranches, Kim and Trinchera, Trinidad and Hoehne, and Folsom and Des Moines, New Mexico. Old-timers nodded their approval for the rehabilitated field, reminiscing about the glory days when Branson’s baseball team hit and fielded their way to the playoffs and a state championship.
Babes in arms and kids on bikes, families toting chairs and sunshades, and some fans who never left the comfort of their pickups, staked out their patch of ground and settled in with snacks and drinks from the very popular concession stand.
Bearcat Coach Brad Caldwell (who also serves as Superintendent for the Branson RE-82 District) had awaited this day since August 2014 – when he first approached the Boards of Education from Branson and Kim with the idea of creating a joint football program that Fall.
Caldwell won over the two boards, though they warned him he would need to rely on fundraising suppers, garage sales, snack sales, and other outside sources to pay for the bulk of program expenses.
In addition to funding support from both the Branson and Kim School Districts, area residents and businesses also contributed to the cause.
The program has been building steadily since the fall of 2014, when six boys from Branson and one from Kim came out for the team. That year, the team scrimmaged Primero and Aguilar, and played Primero Junior Varsity.
Fall 2015 saw eight boys hit the field. The team scrimmaged Aguilar and Manzanola, and played Weldon Valley Varsity, Hanover Junior Varsity, and Cheraw Junior Varsity.
Now, with six players from Branson and four from Kim led by senior captains Noah Martinez, Khymen Green, and Alun Reynolds, Coach Caldwell expects to be very competitive.
“We are in the toughest six-man football conference and have one of the tougher schedules, but the team’s attitude and competitive spirit are outstanding,” said Caldwell.
The Branson/Kim roster is rounded out with juniors Elijah Martinez and Flynn Smith, sophomores Cesar Gonzalez and Zion Mason, and freshmen Clay Smith, Teagan Keeler, and Carter DeCristino.
Following earlier scrimmages with Aguilar and Primero, the 2016 Bearcats have a full varsity schedule: September 16 (at Roy, NM); September 23 (at Eads); September 30 (at Sierra Grande); October 7 (at Kit Carson); October 15 (Walsh at Branson /Homecoming); and October 21 (at Cheraw).
Branson/Kim also has a junior high football program led by coaches Brad Doherty and Jeff Dilda. That program has grown from seven boys the first year to nine boys and girls last year, to 10 boys this year.
Bearcat players are supported by cheerleaders Joni Brown, Delaree Comstock, Grace Provost, and Ingrid Hofmeister, assisted by faculty cheerleader advisor Desteny Felthager.