Larry Highbaugh - Defensive Back - 1971-82 - Indiana
Larry Highbaugh was an outstanding athlete born in Indianapolis, Indiana January 14, 1950. Larry had world class speed as a track star and still holds a number of Indiana high school and college track records.
The Indiana grad came to Canada in 1971, after spending time in the Dallas Cowboys camp. He played 22 games with the Leos, before signing with Edmonton in 1972. What followed was a stellar career. A three-time CFL All-Star, a four-time Western All-Star, appearances in nine Grey Cups, with a total of six wins, including the incredible never-to-be-broken five in a row, from 1978-1982.
In 1973 he led the league in kickoff returns with 873 return yards that included a 102 yard touchdown return. He had an amazing return average of 39.7. On defence he had 6 interceptions. In the 1975 Grey Cup he duelled with Johnny Rodgers the Alouettes star receiver. Rodgers got the better of Highbaugh and the Eskimo defence on that day but Larry would even the score in many duels over the years.
"That five-in a-row team was a combination of chemistry and talent," Highbaugh said from South Gwinnett High School in Snelgrove Georgia, where he teaches and coaches. "We sometimes walked on the field and saw teams roll over. Even during our meetings during the week leading up to a game we had that feeling. If the coaches put in a game plan, we'd look at it and say, coach, 'I don't think we can play this defense and do what we have to do. It was a team effort. They had enough confidence to say we can do this, or no we can't. Then, we'd switch things around."
That confidence led to a swagger on the field, bordering on cockiness. While infuriating to opponents and fans alike, Highbaugh said, the reason why they backed up it on the field, came down to one thing that many teams don't have today.
"It's very rare that you can find 50 guys, that will walk on the field together for a game, practice together, play basketball together, without any difficulty. When we finished playing a game, we'd get together at someone's house. We were always hanging out together, and that's rare these days."
Larry retired in 1983 with 66 interceptions still the second highest total in league history. He was a league all-star three times. He played in 9 Grey Cups in total. Edmonton often utilized Larry on offence to take advantage of his tremendous athletic ability. Larry is a member of the Eskimo wall of honour and was inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame in 2004.