Labette County 2018 Preview

-Altamont, KS

For the Labette County Grizzlies, 2018 is going to be a year of proving themselves. Since becoming the Head Coach of LCHS in 2016, Sean Price’s overall record is 14-7 (5-5 in 2016), (9-2 in 2017). In his 2 year tenure, Price has guided the “Angry Red” to a playoff berth in each season, including a home field win over Paola in Round One of the 2017 State Playoffs. One could have a solid argument that since his arrival, the culture of the program has done a complete 180 degree flip.

As they say, each season brings its own challenges, and 2018 will be no exception. There has been a complete state reclassification, bringing in a completely new schedule for this season. There will remain a familiarity with games against Fort Scott, Chanute, Coffeyville, and Independence. There will also be opponents that Grizzly nation is not familiar with in the slightest, as they will face-off against Winfield, Wellington, as well as Ulysses. And then there comes an opponent that hasn’t been on the schedule since the 2013 season.

In Week 1, LCHS will travel to Hutchinson Field in Pittsburg, KS to face the PHS Purple Dragons. From 2004-2013, these two programs faced each other every year, with Pittsburg winning all 10 meetings. This Friday, Labette will look to change that theme. It won’t come easy though. LCHS is only returning 12 of their 22 starters from last season. They replace key players in both the offensive and defensive backfields, as well as inside linebacker and special teams. They do however bring back All State Non- Senior Selection at QB in Easton Dean as well as defensive standout Caleb Haggard.

Dean had over 2,500 yards of total offense in 2017 along with 30 total TD’s and just 5 turnovers in his first year as starting QB. His outstanding production and raw athletic ability guided him to a #17 Ranked Dual Threat Quarterback in the 2019 National Recruiting class. Dean is currently committed to Iowa State who is a member of the Big 12 Conference in the NCAA Division I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision). Haggard recorded a solid 11 sacks and 5 QB hurries as a Sophomore Defensive End in 2017. It would not be a surprise to see the listed 6’2″ 220lb defensive end attract some collegiate attention by the end of the season if he puts up a solid Junior campaign.

 

Key returning players include the following:

QB – Easton Dean (SR)

WR- Kale Irwin (SR)

DB- Clayton Moore (SR)

DB- Caleb Hentzen (SR)

DL- Caleb Haggard (JR)

DL- Zach McCarty (SR)

OL- Parker Boring (SR)

OL- Tyler Brock (SR)

OL- Jared Huebner (SR)

 

I caught up with Coach Price for a quick Q&A and the conversation can be found below:

Q: Coach, do you have some key players that you will be leaning on this year to provide some leadership?

A: “Easton Dean, Kale Irwin, Clayton Moore, and Zach McCarty need to be big for us this year. They are great kids who have been huge for our program!”

Q: Do you have any newcomers that you’re looking to make an impact? Also you lost some great talent at DB with Keshaun Anderson, Tailback in TJ Mayhue, Inside Linebacker in Rogan Bruce, as well as Receiver with Tanner Russel. Who have you inserted to try to replace those guys?

A: “Caleb Hentzen is a great corner, Caleb Haggard on the DL needs to be huge for us as well. At Tailback, we will have a transfer from Oswego in Chase Evans that we feel will have a great year as well!”

Q: What excites you the most about this season?

A: “Every season is exciting. Seeing how our younger players have improved is going to be big.”

Q: With your first game coming on the road at Pittsburg, what are some of the things that you’re looking to see from the players come game time, and what are you doing in camp to prepare them for what looks to be a competitive match-up?

A: “Playing a great team like Pitt is a really tough challenge right out of the gate, but on a positive, it can get used as a measuring stick to see where we are as a team.”