ALTAMONT — Emotions ran high a week ago for the Labette County Grizzlies.
Following the death of Lisa Sandusky, the mother of players John Kohler, AJ Kohler, Labette County stitched a thrilling overtime win over the Fort Scott Tigers to remain in the driver’s seat of the SEK League and in the hunt for a home playoff game.
“They were excited to beat Fort Scott,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “We won that ballgame for our brothers. There were a lot of tears in that locker room. You expect things to be tough at this point. So we hope to gain some momentum and continue to get things right. Every week is a process.”
Now as the Grizzlies prepare to face a winless Wellington Crusaders squad, Labette County is facing more adversity on its sideline.
Price, in a prepared statement to the Sun, said that he had suspended himself for two practices and will coach from the press box following what he described as “detrimental conduct.”
“I teach character and accountability to our players. Recently, I felt like I wasn’t portraying what I was teaching to my kids. This was my decision because I want to be a great role model to our players. I’ve had great support from my administration and I conveyed to them that I felt this needed to happen. I’ve suspended myself from two practices and I will go to the press box during the game. I will not be on the field at all during pregame or postgame.”
While Price will coach from the press box, assistant coach Bradley Argabright will be in charge on the sidelines.
With the Grizzlies sitting at 3-2 on the season, a chance to start a winning streak presents itself against Wellington. But Price cautions against what the Crusaders have shown on paper.
“Injuries have played a huge part for them,” Price said. “They had 10 kids out and they’re getting some of them back. When you get beat up, that can be tough. Wellington is a dangerous team that’s physical and will play smash-mouth football with us. We’ll have to play at our very best.”
Labette County quarterback Austin Jones, who made his season debut after missing the first four games due to injury, will look to build upon last week’s performance which included two touchdowns but also four interceptions.
“It’s about him getting reps,” Price said. “Austin is hard on himself. Two of those picks were tipped. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce the right way. But he watched a lot of film and knows what he has to do. He’s our emotional leader and is a spark plug.”
The Grizzlies hope to clean up loose ends after having more penalty yards (105) than rushing yards (39) against Fort Scott.
“We want to be able to move the ball and put it in the end zone more consistently,” Price said. “We feel like have a good gameplan. We just have to execute.”
Labette County is currently 10th in the 4A East standings, two spots behind earning a home playoff game with three left on the slate. Five teams currently have 3-2 records in the east, meaning that the Grizzlies are still in desperate need of notches in the win column.
“Our kids were part of the year two years ago when we played at home and won a playoff game,” Price said. “They know how important it is and what’s at stake. They know to play at home, you’ve got to win ballgames.”