Labette County claims district, SEK titles with victory over Golden Tornado

COFFEYVILLE —With 26 unanswered points in the second half, the Labette County Grizzlies capped off the Class 4A-Division I-District 4 and outright Southeast Kansas League championships Friday night with a 34-8 victory over Coffeyville-Field Kindley at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

With an 8-1 regular season, the Grizzlies have already tied the best record in school history. They also capped off a perfect 5-0 record in the SEK for their ninth league championship ever for the program.

As District 4 champion, Labette County will host Paola (7-2) in a first-round contest of the Class 4A-Division I Playoffs. The Panthers finished as the runner-up in District 3. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Lucas Field in Altamont.

Meanwhile, Coffeyville, which had a chance at a playoff spot going into the evening’s action, watched its season come to an end with a 4-5 overall record. The Golden Tornado were 1-2 in district play to finish behind both Labette County and Chanute. The Blue Comets will travel to Fort Scott in another first-round playoff matchup on Friday.

The teams were locked in a defensive battle throughout the first half. Coffeyville got on the scoreboard first on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jaylen Logan to Trey Myrie. Logan then found CJ Kelley in the end zone for the conversion and an 8-0 lead at the 4:48 mark of the first quarter.

Labette County responded on its next possession. It took the Grizzlies seven plays and 2 1/2 minutes to move 61 yards. They capped off the drive with a four-yard run into the end zone from TJ Mayhue. Tanner Russell then ran in the conversion to even the score.

The teams went into the intermission tied at 8-all, but it was all LCHS in the second half. The Grizzlies’ defense shut down the Golden Tornado, forcing three punts and two turnovers while also holding them on downs after the break.

LCHS then took control offensively but first grabbed the lead with a bit of trickery. On a fourth-and five at its own 46, Labette County elected to use a fake punt. Punter Tate Phillips tucked the ball, got around the end and sprinted down the side line for six. Phillips added the extra point for a 15-8 lead.

Coffeyville’s best drive of the second half went all the way down to the Labette 35 before being held on downs. On the next offensive play for the Grizzlies, Kale Irwin broke loose on a 58-yard scamper to the end zone that quickly bumped the lead up to 21-8.

LCHS eventually put the game away with a pair of Mayhue touchdowns in the fourth quarter — the first from six yards out and the second on a 35-yard scramble for the final margin.

Mayhue had a game-high 109 yards rushing on 18 carries with three scores. As a team, Labette County finished with 331 total yards, including 257 on the ground.

Coffeyville finished the game with 255 yards of offense. Logan completed 15-of-26 passes for 169 yards but was picked off three times.