Tradition, pride and class.

Those three words have longed been associated with the Seneca School District and particularly the football team.

Those three words are on the school board sign outside of the high school.

The letters TPC were on the back of football T-shirts in the past for Seneca players.

When you are a state playoff contender almost every year and have state titles in your glass case, it’s easy to find the tradition.
It’s up to head football coach Rob Townsend, his assistant coaches and football team to put the shine back on the other two.

“A lot of people have built the tradition and pride and class here at Seneca,” Townsend said in his first public comments since the hazing and alleged assault to freshman football players in June. “We are looking to add to that tradition with this year’s edition.”

The last two months have been anything but easy for all those involved in the Seneca football program. A football camp at Pittsburg State in late June set off months of discussion between all students involved in the incident, police and school board members.

The Seneca School Board voted Tuesday night – announcing it on Wednesday – that all of the coaches would keep their jobs, but would be placed on probation for a year. That ended nearly two months of speculation on whether the coaches would keep their jobs or be terminated.

During the meeting, a number of parents of current or former players came to voice their support for Townsend and his staff.

“We appreciate the whole football community for their support the last six week,” Townsend said.

There were four students who were suspended for the entire school year from playing sports and several others who got some sort of suspension for their roles in the incident. There were 17 players injured and 11 other players – mostly minors – who are facing criminal charges in Crawford County, Kan., in those assaults.

The coaches were not present at the assault, rather at a meeting, and were later notified about the situation. The players, Townsend noted, were on lunch break in between practice sessions.

Seneca is finally back to football and that is what the team has done the last few days. Friday morning the team met and on Saturday there were some drills during team camp from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Earlier in the week, the school district had canceled the camp.

The turnout, player wise, ranged between 20 to 25 players, Townsend said. He hopes when school starts there will be 40 players out for the team.

“Right now we are working on developing a relationship between us and the kids and building the trust,” Townsend said. “We have a plan that will be ever-changing and navigating on how we develop trust between the players and players, coaches and coaches and coaches and players. We will work hard to make sure that plan works.”

Two-a-days start state-wide on Aug. 9 and most teams will host a scrimmage that following Friday. In Seneca, it’s called the Lawn Chair Scrimmage. Whether it will be held this year is unknown. First of all, the new intermediate school sits on the old practice field. Secondly, without any football activities since June, Seneca will be behind where most other teams are.

But for now, figuring out about a scrimmage is the last thing on Townsend’s mind.

“Right now we are concentrating on the kids and trying to make them better people and better football players.”