After a four-year hiatus, the Parsons Vikings and Labette County Grizzlies will renew their cross-county football rivalry in 2022.
In Week 2 of the 2022 football season, Parsons and Labette County will face off in Altamont. The two rivals will then square off at Marvel Park in 2023.
“We just decided instead of driving so many miles to play a team three hours away, we’ll start playing the team 10 miles away,” Parsons athletic director Rob Barcus said.
Parsons administration elected to take Labette County, and all other Class 4A and above schools, from its schedule starting in 2018, when Parsons was reclassified to Class 3A.
The Vikings were in the midst of a massive slump and Parsons made the decision after Labette County beat Parsons 71-0.
“We never wanted to stop playing them,” Labette County athletic director and football head coach Sean Price said. “We’ve always wanted to play them. I’m tired of driving to Wichita for games. It makes sense for the fans of both communities.”
Parsons has won three playoff games and has two winning seasons in the last four years.
While Barcus admits that the Vikings have grown closer competitively to Labette County, travel costs and other factors were the driving forces.
“I think we’ve gotten closer, competitively,” Barcus said. “But when you looked at both teams’ schedules, we were playing Anderson County and Osawatomie. They were going out to the Wichita area. It just made sense for both of us to renew this thing.”
Parsons leads Labette County 31-21 in the series dating back to 1924, but the Grizzlies have won the last five meetings since 2012.
“It’s always been back and forth,” Price said. “Every series will ebb and flow. Parsons was dominant for a while. It’s a rivalry game so most games are going to be good.”
While Parsons and Labette County will meet again on the football field, Parsons will remain an independent football school and not rejoin the SEK League.
“You see it at basketball games and other sports,” Barcus said. “It won’t matter what the records are or who’s expected to be good. It’s a rivalry game and there will be a lot of excitement around it.”
With the Parsons program resurging and Labette County anxious to turn the page on a winless season, next year’s matchup already has both schools excited.
“I’m excited for our kids. I just graduated a senior class that never got to play Parsons and that’s a crying shame,” Price said. “We should’ve been playing them all along.”