ALTAMONT — Ask Labette County Grizzlies head coach Sean Price about last week’s 28-7 loss to Winfield, and he’ll tell you he wishes he had a mulligan.
Labette County committed seven turnovers, including three interceptions from quarterback Kooper Peak, in a game where the Grizzlies led 7-6 at halftime.
“For two-and-a-half quarters, our defense dominated last week,” Price said. “But our offense didn’t help us. We had seven turnovers and that shifted momentum. I’ve never won a game turning it over seven times. Last week was a winnable game, we just didn’t do the little things right. I felt like we left one out on the field.”
Now the Grizzlies, sitting at 2-2 on the season, resume SEK League play with its first home game in a month on Friday night against Fort Scott.
Labette County’s two wins have come against league opponents — Independence and Coffeyville — to keep the program on track for a league championship.
Before Friday, though, Price has hammered on ball security.
“It’s an emphasis all the time,” Price said. “I hope the kids realize that if you’re loose with the ball, what happened last week can happen to you again.”
The annual matchup between Fort Scott and Labette County has been one of the most competitive in the league over the last several years. Over the last four meetings dating back to the 2015 season, Price’s first year as head coach, the teams have both won and lost two with three of the four games being decided by two scores or less.
“Every year I’ve been here, it’s been a dogfight with Fort Scott,” Price said. “It’s always a close game. It’s gone back-and-forth. It’s definitely our rivalry game for us right now.”
This year, Fort Scott is under new head coach Bo Graham and sits at 1-3 on the year. The Tigers’ lone win came in Week 1, a 40-14 drubbing of Coffeyville.
“They’re running the ball a lot,” Price said. “I’ve seen a lot of double-tight formations. They’re doing that a lot more this year, so we’re adjusting to that. They’re a little bit like us, I think. If they can run the ball, they’ll be successful.”
Offensively for the Grizzlies, they’re coming off a game where they were limited to 70 yards rushing and 255 of total offense.
“Each week we’re trying to put more in, and we did that this week,” Price said. “Our pass protection was good last game, and we’re starting to run the ball well. Consistency is something we’re aiming to get better at.”
With two games left on the league schedule, Labette County still has its sights on a league title and earning a top-eight seed in the 4A playoffs with a strong finish.
“Everybody has a shot at the league title still,” Price said, “since Chanute starts league play this week. We’re all right there. We have two more games, so we know if we can win both of them, we’ll be an SEK League champion. That’s still one of our goals.”