After a year in Kentucky, senior is team's defensive "pulse"
Charlestown senior linebacker Bradley Laffoon is a firm believer in fate.
Laffoon’s life, he said, took a turn less than two years ago. His grandfather passed away, and in an effort to salvage the affected property, his family relocated to Lincoln County, Ky., more than two hours away from Charlestown and the gritty linebacker’s football “family.”
A starter for the sectional champion Pirates as a sophomore, Laffoon transferred into a reputable Lincoln County High School program coming off a lowly 3-8 campaign.
His family’s loss and the subsequent move, however, didn’t slow down Laffoon one bit. He proceeded to tally 106 total tackles as a junior for the Patriots. The showing garnered him all-state honorable mention honors on the Class 5A level.
“Nobody likes when somebody passes away,” Laffoon said. “But I think going down there and getting the coaching that I got, and understanding what it’s like to go through adversity. … I just understood what I had to do.”
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Despite success on the field, Lincoln County, Laffoon said, “just didn’t feel like home.” Something was missing for the 5-foot-9, 200-pound linebacker. Entering his senior year, Laffoon said he asked his parents’ permission to move back to Charlestown.
The something missing was his second family.
“Playing with a team I consider family – I’m just blessed beyond belief,” Laffoon said. “I can’t even get over it. I can’t really put into words how great it feels to be back here and playing under these lights at Dutch Reis Field.”
Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said that Laffoon’s departure after his sophomore season was “a blow” for the Pirates defensively. The senior has made up for lost time at Charlestown thus far in his final season.
Laffoon is up to 95 total tackles in 2016 – 55 solo and 13 for loss – to go along with four forced fumbles and three sacks. All those marks are team highs. He had 70 total tackles as a sophomore.
“When I found out he was coming back, there were a lot of people really excited about that,” Hawkins said. “He’s the pulse of the defense. He’s the leader. He makes a lot of calls out there for us. It’s pretty much like having a coach on the field. He’s the quarterback of our defense.”
Laffoon’s 17 total tackles in a win over North Harrison – Charlestown’s opponent in the teams’ sectional opener Friday – earlier this year mark a season high. The senior is a threat on the opposite side of the ball as well, having hauled in 14 receptions for 218 yards and a touchdown.
He also punched in a score on the ground in a win over Providence. Laffoon posted 14 tackles in the victory, too, but was quick to shout out Pioneers running back Kaden Williams on Twitter after the game. The Pirates’ defensive centerpiece pays his respects where they’re due.
“Heck of a game tonight man!” he posted. “Fun to play against such good talent.”
Laffoon, by way of the recent turn in his life, makes the most of his opportunities. Throughout the adversity, he still believed in fate.
“I was blessed to have that,” he said.
North Harrison at Charlestown
When: 7 p.m.
Listen online: CPPSB.com
Records: Charlestown (8-1, 6-1 Mid-Southern), North Harrison (7-2, 5-2)
Rankings: Charlestown No. 12 in 3A AP poll
Last meeting: Charlestown, 48-14 (Sept. 9, 2016)
Outlook: Charlestown has won seven straight games, which includes a romp of North Harrison in Week 4. The Cougars will likely be without starting quarterback Avery Blocker this time around. Sophomore Skylar Wetzel has started the past three games for North Harrison’s run-heavy offense.
The Cougars’ young quarterback is tasked with cracking a Charlestown defense that’s allowed 14 points in the past three weeks. On offense, the Pirates average more than 45 points per game, and their 48-point total against the Cougars earlier this season is the most North Harrison has allowed thus far in 2016.
The pick: Charlestown, 38-13