Former Basehor standout looking for bowl game
Going into this week, the 8-1 Miami Hurricanes are ranked as the No. 2 college football team in the country by both the Associated Press and the ESPN/Coaches Poll.
Trailing the lone undefeated team, Oklahoma, the 'Canes are having one of their strongest seasons in a while.
Miami is No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series College Football Ratings, but only trails second-ranked Florida State by 39 points. There is still a good chance the team could surpass the Seminoles or the Cowboys and play for the national championship.
But one thing is almost guaranteed: Area college football fans will have a local player to root for during the holiday bowl season.
Greg Laffere, a 1996 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School, has been a starting offensive lineman for the Hurricanes for the last two years.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Laffere leads a bulky and experienced line that has helped the team average more than 40 points a game this season.
But when he was in high school, the then-235-pound Laffere, was a standout in both basketball and football
His name is plastered on Basehor-Linwood's walls like repetitive graffiti. Much of his success in high school came in basketball.
Under "Most points in a game," his name appears four out of five times. Laffere's name appears with similar regularity under the headings "Most points in a season" and "Most rebounds in a season."
Laffere is the team's all-time leading scorer. He also broke the school's single-game scoring record with 44 points against Tonganoxie his senior season.
He helped lead his team to the Class 4A state semifinals his junior year and to the district finals his senior year.
"It's hard to say which he was better at," said Jake Laffere, his brother. "He had a lot more success at basketball, but they had a pretty decent football team, too."
Basketball is a sport that produces many statistics, but football, especially for a lineman, offers few individual accolades.
In football, personal success is measured more at the team level.
And Laffere played on some good football teams. His junior season, Basehor-Linwood went 8-3. It finished with a 7-4 record his senior year.
Laffere was an all-league selection both years.
But he didn't just quit basketball and move to Miami to play football when high school was over. A Division
I scholarship wasn't in the cards for Laffere, so he had to work his way up.
He began college at Butler County Community College in El Dorado the fall after high school graduation.
"I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a four-year scholarship," Laffere said. "But I loved it there. The coaches were awesome."
Laffere's first year coincided with a resurgent season for the team under first-year Butler coach James Shiebest.
The team went 7-3 and earned a spot in the Valley of the Sun Bowl that year.
But Laffere hadn't given up basketball. He played at Butler during his first year.
After that, though, he decided to call it quits.
"I just got too big," he said.
At that point, Laffere said he weighed 285 pounds 50 pounds more than he had weighed in high school.
But his football hopes were alive and well.
Division I colleges were scouting Laffere, and when Miami, fresh off probation and in need of some size, offered him a scholarship, he accepted.
He spent his first season there as a redshirt, working on his skills and learning the system.
In his second season, which was last year, Laffere saw quite a bit of playing time. He started the final 10 games of the season.
This year, after missing the first two games while recovering from knee surgery, Laffere has re-emerged in the starting line up.
Now, heading into the bowl season, Miami is a team to beat and, if you're from the Leavenworth County area, Greg Laffere is the player to watch.