ALTAMONT — A safety, a stellar showing from the punter and an elegant connection between two sophomores secured the first win of the season for the Labette County Grizzlies, who beat Coffeyville 16-13.
“This was a hard-fought game,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “On paper, they’re bigger than us. But the heart counts and that’s what we had. We had character. We were disciplined. We played our butts off. I love this group.”
With Labette County trailing 13-6 in the final minute of the first half, Grizzlies quarterback Griffin Eaton found the pin on a pass to the front pylon to wide receiver Tray Vinson. A converted two-point conversion gave Labette County a 14-13 advantage heading into the locker room.
“That was huge on both of them,” Price said. “Tray, just a sophomore, has been waiting to make a big play. For Griffin, you can’t ask for a better ball than that. That was so big.”
Labette County’s first touchdown of the game, a three-yard run from Eaton, was also set up by a turnover earlier in the second quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Grizzlies’ lead tripled — from one to three — after a bad snap by Coffeyville was downed by Golden Tornado quarterback Aaron Rutherford in the end zone.
While Labette County’s defense spent much of the night bending but not breaking, and the offense still appeared stagnant, it was the Grizzlies’ punter that perhaps shined the brightest.
Harrison Hall had three punts downed inside the 20-yard-line, including one inside the 5-yard-line that set up the safety in the third quarter.
“He might have been the Player of the Game, honestly,” Price said. “He set up the safety. He’s a senior that works hard. He’s a great kid and came up big tonight.”
Eaton spent most of the night at quarterback after Kooper Peak, the other gunslinger for the Grizzlies, threw an interception in the first quarter.
Eaton accounted for both touchdowns for Labette County. But the Grizzlies as a whole were limited to 73 passing yards.
“We felt like he had a hot hand,” Price said. “When we got inside the 10, we scored with him. So we’re going to go with the hand hand. That’s what we’ll do.”
Labette County also amassed 120 yards rushing. The Grizzlies also caught two major breaks as a pair of touchdowns from Kansas State commit Darell Jones were called back on penalties.
“We needed a win and to get the monkey off our back,” Price said. “We did that. Now we’ll worry about next week and keep working. That’s who we are.”
The win for Labette County improves its record to 1-5 on the season, while Coffeyville dropped to 1-4.
“I’m feeling relief for our seniors,” Price said. “This has been a tough go. This isn’t how you want a good group to go out. We fought hard for them tonight. It’s pretty emotional.”
Labette County is still searching for a Week 7 opponent after Independence was quarantined due to COVID-19. The Grizzlies are hoping to host the game as they’ve only played two home games so far this campaign.
“We’ll go back to work at practice,” Price said. “If we can grab somebody, we’ll grab somebody to play.”
Labette County 16, Coffeyville 13
Labette County: 0 14 2 0 — 16
Coffeyville: 0 13 0 0 — 13
CV: Aaron Rutherford 30-yard pass to Tariq Logan, 10:36, 0-7
LC: Griffin Eaton 3-yard run, 5:37, 6-7
CV: Brady White 4-yard run, 3:42, 6-13
LC: Eaton 34-yard pass to Tray Vinson, 0:20, 14-13
LC: Safety, 1:45, 16-13