Faces in KS: Grant Raleigh

Grant Raleigh of Hesston not only a top basketball player in KS, also a quarterback. (Gina Dreher)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Oct 15, 2014

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If you follow high school basketball in Kansas closely then it’s safe to say you have heard of Hesston’s Grant Raleigh. You would know that he’s an all-state basketball player that helped lead the Swathers to the 3A title as a junior in 2014. What you may not know is that he would end up having one of the best football seasons so far among Kansas quarterbacks in 2014.

“He’s a true dual-threat QB. He really opens up the playbook and gives us the ability to be very diverse.” Hesston head coach, Clint Rider said.

Raleigh, a 6-foot-2 170 pound senior, has passed for 1,208 yards (18 TD), while rushing for 932 more and 12 scores for the Swathers (6-0) in 2014. Raleigh also has 176 yards as a kick and punt returner on the year. An injury plagued junior season had Raleigh with 288 receiving yards in four games as a wideout in 2013 before becoming the quarterback in 2014. Although it’s his first season as the starting signal caller, he’s displaying his natural ability at the position

“I played quarterback every year I’ve played football except the last two years. It’s my natural position and I am happy to be healthy again in football.” Raleigh said. “This season has been amazing so far, but we arent satisfied yet and still have a lot of hard work to do. Knowing that it will be my last football season I will ever play, and the last time playing with the guys on my teams, it’s very special."

So now we will talk about Raleigh’s best sport and it’s not football. As a junior last season, under his father/head coach, Greg Raleigh, he was named the 3A Player of the Year from Sports in Kansas after leading the Swathers to a perfect 26-0 record. He averaged 13.9 points per game, 3.5 assists, while shooting 87 percent from the foul line on a very balanced Hesston squad. Raleigh scored 22 points in the title game to defeat Beloit (59-54) last March.

“The championship last season was one of the best moments of my life. We worked really hard as a team to accomplish what we did.” Raleigh said.

Not only was it a successful season for Raleigh and the Swather boys squad, it was just as successful as the girls doubled as 3A champs.Head coach Matt Richardson led his team to a 25-1 record as they defeated Lyons (46-36) in the title game in Hutchinson. Making Hesston a title town in Kansas last season. 

“Again, it was one of the best moments of my life. Having our girls win it and then winning it, and going undefeated alongside my dad. It’s hard to put into words how amazing that it was.” Raleigh said.

Raleigh has put in countless hours of hard work to become the player that he is today and according to his football coach he really understands the sacrifices you must put in to become the player you want to be.

“Grant is a fierce competitor, he understand the sacrifice you must be willing to make to be successful. He works hard to perfect his craft whether its football or basketball,” Rider said. “It goes beyond athletics, he’s a model student in the classroom and makes good decisions that affect those around him in a positive way. Young players need to look at the way he conducts himself and try to model he embodies”

For now its football season and the outstanding senior athlete will look to head Hesston to the 3A playoffs in 2014, but first will have to take care of business in a district that features Council Grove (5-1), Hillsboro (2-4) and Southeast Saline (5-1). Two class 3A playoff spots are on the line for the four teams. Hesston opens district play at home this Friday against Hillsboro. We caught up with Grant below…

Q&A w/ Raleigh

How did you get involved in athletics?

From the time I learned to walk, I always had a ball in my hands.  My dad helped a ton to get me really interested in sports, and he has been a big part of the reason that I am the athlete I am today.

How has the season went for you so far?

This season has been absolutely amazing so far.  Knowing that its the last football season I will ever play, and the last time playing with all the guys in my grade makes it really special.  A lot of us have been playing football together since 3rd grade.  That being said, we are nowhere near satisfied yet.  We have a lot more work to do, and are working hard to make a good run this year.

Has the transition from receiver to QB been hard for you?

Not at all.  I played QB every year I've ever played football except for my sophomore and junior years when Wyatt McKinney was quarterback.  I feel like it's my natural position and I love being the leader out there.

Who are some of the key players for the Swathers?

Every single person on the team.  I've got a lot of recognition this year, but what people don't realize is how many talented players we have.  I have endless positive things to say about our line.  Austin Cheatham, Garret Roth, Chase Brown, Braden Weber, and Devon Wenger (our linemen) do an absolutely amazing job and they make my job really easy.  I think linemen especially in high school football go really unnoticed, but if you come watch us play and really pay attention, our line is a big part of the reason we are having success.

What will it take for you guys to make a run in 3A football this season?

I think we have what it takes, a big reason is because we've got a bunch of guys who just hate to lose.  Us seniors especially have never been used to losing, and even though Hesston has had really good teams in the past, we are really working hard to get over that hump and become elite this year.  I think a big thing is working hard in practice every day, and realizing we are going to be facing some really tough teams down the road.

How would you describe yourself as a football player?

I'd like to think of myself as the leader, and the toughest one out there.  I always used to play linebacker, I've always loved hitting.  Especially being a quarterback this year I've really been focusing on setting a good example, and never letting anyone see me hurting.

How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?

I hope to be seen as a really hard worker, especially in basketball.  I would describe myself as fundamentally sound, that being from a lot of hours alone in the gym the last 10 years.  Again, I work really hard on being a good leader and teammate as well.

How awesome was it to capture the state basketball title, along with the girls last season?

It was one of the best moments of my life.  I've worked really hard at the game of basketball, and that moment, having our girls win it, and then winning it, and going undefeated alongside my dad, It's hard to put into words how amazing that was.

What looks have you gotten in basketball so far, any offers?

I'm getting looks from some D2's, and some NAIA schools mostly in Kansas, and some from the surrounding states.  A few offers as of now, but I'm really trying to keep my options open, because I've got a lot of time to decide, and want to make sure I commit to where its the best fit for me.

What is it like to play for Coach Rider?

I've learned a lot playing for Coach Rider.  He truly cares about all of his players, and I think it shows.  It's always a good feeling playing for a coach that you know has your back.  He has gave me some freedom this year, running the offense, so it really helps to know he has confidence in me.

What is it like to play for your dad in basketball?

Even though at some times it gets really stressful, and I complain about it, I think that playing for my dad all of these years is one of the best things that could possibly happen to me.  He pushes me really hard, and especially lately its really starting to pay off.  He has taught me, and been a great example of how if you truly care enough about something to work really hard at it consistently, it will eventually pay off.

Do you guys return a lot in basketball??

We only lost 2 seniors in Ryan Schadler and Wyatt McKinney, but those 2 seniors were very, very, very important and also great leaders.  It's been weird this football season not having Wyatt, and Ryan out there because every sport I've played since about 3rd grade I'd been on a team with them. But with only losing two, we do have a lot of returners, and we have the chance to be a very good team again.

What do you do in the offseason to become a better athlete?

Summer weights everyday, individual basketball and football workouts, jumping and agility work on my own, and a ton of basketball.  I was lucky enough to be a part of an elite summer team since about 5th grade, and the last few summers we made a lot of noise, not just in Kansas, but on a national scale.  I'm also very fortunate to have a football coach like Coach Rider who understands when I have to be gone for tournaments.

Do you play basketball year round?

Yeah, you lose ground on other people who are out there working on it if you take extended time of, so it is definitely a constant thing for me.

What is it like to grow up in Hesston?

Hesston is a small enough town where everyone truly cares about you, and especially the sports teams.  We have great support for every sport, and its awesome to have all those little kids look up to you, and everyone else praising and watching out for you.

Favorite subject in school?

Math has always came easy to me, and lately I'm starting to like Physics and Government.

Play any other sports?

Just basketball and football.  I used to do track, and baseball, but as I got into high school, I started devoting a lot more time to basketball and football.  There is a possibility I might go out for track again this year, not quite sure.

What is one thing the average person wouldn't know about you?

Probably just that off of the court and field, I'm not always as serious and intense as I come off in sports.  I hang out with my friends a lot, and they would probably tell you I'm the weirdest person they know.