Denver7 | Sports


Nationwide attention saves Friday night lights in small Colorado town

A small town's football field dried up. But thanks to thousands of dollars in donations, a new field is being built to bring life back to the school's football program.
Posted at 12:55 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 20:27:40-04

BRANSON, Colo. — With a population of about 50, the tiny Colorado town of Branson could easily be missed if you blinked your eyes going down Highway 389. But one thing that can’t go unnoticed in Branson is the town’s resolve.

The Branson High School football field, built by students and the school’s superintendent in 2014, dried up due to water restrictions put in place.

“I still consider it my baby,” says Brad Caldwell in January, Branson School District Superintendent and the guy who quite literally built Branson football.

Without a field, opposing programs said they’d no longer travel to Branson to play football.

“I was a little offended, a little mad, a little angry,” says Brad Doherty in January, Branson’s athletic director. “I decided to let it go and say, ‘hey, this is an opportunity to really make something happen.”’

The town and student athletes were devastated. But they didn’t give up. They started a fundraiser to build a new turf field.

The Las Animas County town reached their goal and broke ground on a new $430,000 artificial turf playing field Wednesday. According to a report in the Colorado Sun, donations poured in from all over the country after the town’s plight gained national attention.

“Our story is one of such perseverance and overcoming the tough times we’re in,” said Doherty. “This is a kind of thing where the community is bouncing back, and the feeling of community is something that people can gather around and support.”

The project will be split in three phases. The complex will include a scoreboard, bleachers, and a shaded pavilion and walking path.

"We're going to have graduations, community events, FFA events, 4H, church things, summer camps, sports skills camps," said Doherty. "We're going to use this in any way shape or form we can think of, and as many outdoor parties and celebrations we can think of. It's going to be the funnest place in southeast Colorado."