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Oiler connection: LaFleurs to coach in NFC Championship game

The date was Oct. 31, 1997.

The site was Mt. Pleasant's Community Memorial Stadium.

As it was the host Oiler football team closed the 1997 season out with a provervial thud as they fell to Cadillac 28-11.

Going into the game Mt. Pleasant was already decimated by injury as split end Chris Schell (broken hand); linebacker Rob Lewis (knee); defensive back/running back Jeff Radawski (knee) and linebacker/back-up QB John Ogger (ankle) were all sidelined with injury as was running back Alex Keeton who broke his leg during the contest.

In short the Oilers ended the regular-season minus a ton of talent and it was only thinned further when star quarterback Matt LaFleur sprained his knee on the second offensive play of the game.

After talking with coach Don Peddie in the postgame locker room I was headed over to ask a question or two to LaFleur, yet the look on his face said everything that needed to be said so I made my way out the door and back to the office.

For the 1997 season LaFleur led the mid-Michigan area as he completed 95-of-157 passes for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air. He also had a 375-yard game against Lansing Sexton and had a handful of interceptions as a defensive back.

Slumped over in the corner of the locker room his face told of his current knee pain and of the fact that his prep career was in fact over.

Yet, in truth, his football career was really just beginning.

As it was LaFleur went on to play quarterback at Saginaw Valley State University (2000-2002) where he led the Cardinals to three-straight NCAA Division II playoff appearances.

His 7,682 total yards from scrimmage still ranks second all-time at SVSU while he ranks third in pass attempts (852) and completions (491) and fourth in career passing yards (6,801) and passing touchdowns (60). After his playing days ended he became an offensive assistant at SVSU before taking jobs at CMU (2004-05), Northern Michigan (2006) and Ashland University (2007) where he was an offensive coordinator.

Since then he has worked as an offensive assistant coach for the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins of the NFL and at Notre Dame University.

Over the span of the last two seasons he's been the quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons who just happen to being playing this weekend in the NFC Championship game. Moreover, he has worked with potential league MVP Matt Ryan all season and is one game away from playing in the Super Bowl.

Not to be overlooked Matt's younger brother Mike is also is his second season as an offensive assistant coach for the Falcons.

Mike LaFleur, who also an outstanding quarterback at Mt. Pleasant High School in the early 2000s, was a captain and three-time letter winner at quarterback and safety at Elmhurst College.

In 2010 he was hired by Saint Joseph's College and became its offensive and recruiting coordinator in 2011. From there he became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks and wide receivers coach at Davidson before being hired by the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

In short there is a huge Mt. Pleasant connection tied to this week's NFC Championship game and if the Falcons win, well a pair of former Mt. Pleasant High School standouts are heading to the Super Bowl.

Last Updated: 1/17/2017 6:31:09 PM EST