Nixa football

Lukas Roemen receives congrats from teammates after hauling in a 58-yard touchdown pass last week at Branson.

Opposing scouting reports on Nixa likely stress to absolutely expect running back Sean Sample to carry the ball 15-20 times a night.

True to form, Sample rushed 28 times for 106 yards in the Eagles’ 18-14 win last week at Branson. 

But how Sample has received the ball in recent weeks and what Nixa did offensively at Branson when Sample didn’t have the ball has surprised opponents and probably many Eagles fans, as well.

Coach Rich Rehagen’s imagination has been on display, with Nixa employing the ‘Wildcat’ formation, alternating quarterbacks and showing off trick plays.  

“We’re hard to prepare for,” quarterback Hunter Crabtree said. “Teams don’t know what they’re going to get.”

“We’re trying to get our guys in the best spot we can and maximize what they can do,” coach Rich Rehagen said.

Nixa put up two second-half touchdowns to stage a surprising rally from a 14-3 deficit and beat Branson. The Eagles are averaging a modest 14.3 points a game and have had four nights — Week One at Carthage, Week Three at Willard, Week Five versus Neosho and Week Six at Carl Junction — in which they posted just one touchdown.

“Offensively, we had been struggling the past couple of weeks,” Sample said. “Coach is trying to get the strengths out of everybody. I love everything we’re doing with trick plays and different packages.”

Sample plays the role of the ‘Wildcat’ and thus has 10 blockers in front of him, instead of nine.

“We ran it once or twice against Neosho and a couple more times against Carl Junction,” Sample said. “We had some success with it, so we put a whole package with it (last week) in practice. 

“I might even have to throw it a little bit, so I have to get used to that. It’s fun.”

Reid Potts has provided an instant jolt almost every time he has stepped onto the field, either behind center of as a wideout. He was the middle man in a flea-flicker against Branson that resulted in a 58-yard scoring strike to Lukas Roemen.

Potts is a sophomore the Eagles are high on.

“He looks like a sophomore sometimes and sometimes he doesn’t,” Rehagen said. “That’s what sophomores do. He’s doing pretty well. I think he has a good future.”

“He can sling it,” tight end Logan Ayers said. “You’ll see him in the future. He’s going to be one of our greats.”

Nixa’s offense will need to be in peak form on ‘Senior Night’ Friday opposite Joplin in the Ozark Chevrolet Game of the The Week. Joplin (5-2) is averaging 33.6 points a game.

Nixa vaulted itself to third place in this week’s Class 5 District 5 standings. Carthage (6-1) is first, Parkview (4-3) second, Branson (2-5) fourth and Republic (2-5) fifth. The Eagles own the first tie-breaker opposite both Branson and Republic.

Ozark (1-6) will also host ‘Senior Night’ on Friday, as the Tigers entertain Webb City (7-0).

Elsewhere around the Central Ozark Conference, Branson is at Carl Junction (3-4), Carthage (7-0) visits Republic and Willard (2-5) hosts Neosho (4-3).

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