Four years ago, Granby high school started the first football team in the school’s history and in four short years they are already sending their first player to a Division-I school. Jake Largay signed his National Letter of Intent to the University of Massachusetts on Feb. 5.
“I’ve always loved the UMass campus,” said Largay who grew up in Mass., and spent his freshman year at Longmeadow High school. “I went to a couple of games and my eighth grade youth football team practiced with the team. It was fun.”
Largay started on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Bears, finishing with 68 total tackles, four for a loss and one sack, his senior season.
“He’s very knowledgeable,” said Granby head coach Rick Gadoury. “He will do whatever it takes to get better.”
Playing in college was always something that Largay wanted to do.
“It was either getting money to play football in college or going to the marines,” he said. “I’m glad I am playing football.”
But he wasn’t sure if it would happen.
“I never was contacted by any coaches until after my junior season,” he said. “I never thought coaches would talk to me, CCSU was the first to and it was crazy.”
UMass was always Largay’s first choice.
“I was always hoping they would talk to me and when they went Division-I, I was really hoping they would,” he said.
When the Minuteman and former head coach Charley Molhar contacted him, it was an easy choice for Largay.
“The coaching staff was really nice to me,” said Largay.
Molhar was fired in December and the Minutemen brought back former head coach Mark Whipple to again run the program, he was the head coach from 1998-2003. Largay didn’t know if he would fit into the Whipple’s plans.
“When coach Molhar was fired I was nervous,” said Largay, Whipple though would put Largay’s nerves to rest. “Coach Whipple, he’s a great guy, he came to my house a couple of weeks ago, and he’s a down to earth guy, a real players coach.”
Football though wasn’t always the first love for Laragy, ice hockey was, but while getting in shape for hockey season he also got himself ready for football and that’s when he fell in love.
“I always played hockey, until my freshman year,” he said. “I just started to love football.”
Largay came to Granby for his sophomore year, after his family moved from Mass., joining his cousin Stephen Blake a year older on the Bears football team and was inserted right into the starting lineup said Gadoury.
“He was role model and a captain this year for us. His heart was always with the team, the team came ahead of everything,” said Gadoury.
His sophomore year they finished 2-8 and then his junior year they improved to 4-6, finishing with 61 total tackles, 14 for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
This season Laragy helped Granby to their first .500 record in school history, 6-5. The sixth win of the season came on Thanksgiving Eve, when the Bears beat rivals Canton, 21-19.
“It was amazing to see his career end in that game,” said Gadoury.
Largay said that as of now he is just looking to get on the field.
“They told me I won’t have to redshirt, but my goal is to suit up,” he said. “I am not expecting to start; there are good players up there.”
As for the Granby, coming off of the best record in the school history and having one of their players move on to Division-I football, some would say that Largay has helped Granby some recognition, but Largay isn’t taking any of the credit.
“People are saying that I put Granby of the map,” he said. “This season’s team put Granby on the map.”
UMass plays in the Mid-American Conference and are coming off a 1-11 season. They have sent some players to the NFL including Vladimir Ducasse of the New York Jets was drafted in the second round in 2010. Undrafted wide receiver turned Super Bowl winning and Pro-Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz suited up for the Minutemen from 2007-2009 and now plays for the New York Giants.