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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kansas players steeped in Border War lore

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The Border War 2007

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¢ 6Sports video: Beaten but still in top 5<br /> ¢ 6News video: Fans cheer on Hawks from Lawrence<br /> ¢ 6News video: Crowds brave cold for ESPN's Gameday<br /> ¢ 6News video: Broken dreams<br />

Kansas University sophomore running back Jake Sharp has seen a few big games.

After all, he has been involved in some storied high school football matches between Salina South and his alma mater, Salina Central. But what is about to transpire tonight between Sharp's No. 2-ranked Jayhawks and No. 3 Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium undoubtedly will trump many of the memories he has from those days in Salina.

"There have been some games like that," Sharp said. "But obviously, this one will be tenfold. There's going to be a lot of people in the stands, and both we and Missouri deserve to be there."

The atmosphere for today's game could be a crescendo of sorts for Sharp and a number of his teammates who grew up in Kansas and now will be in the trenches of one of the most bitter rivalries in college sports.

Kansas defensive end John Larson grew up along the frontlines of the Border War while attending high school at Pembroke Hill in Kansas City, Mo.

"I definitely have friends who play for both Kansas and Missouri," Larson said. "We keep it civil most of the time. But when game week rolls around, it gets a little tense. But mostly it stays friendly."

Growing up so close to the border, however, Larson's allegiance was never torn. Though he played high school ball in Missouri, he's a native Kansan.

"I was born and bred a Kansas Jayhawk," Larson said. "My grandpa went to KU, my mom and dad went to KU, my brother came to KU. I grew up watching Kansas basketball with the likes of Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz. So hopefully there are some kids out there who are watching Kansas football."

Junior offensive lineman Chet Hartley, like Sharp, grew up farther out into the Kansas landscape than Larson in Kingman. He, too, knows all about the Border War.

"It's a dream come true," Hartley said. "Everybody's watching. I get letters from people like my teacher and stuff who tell me how proud they are of me. It's hard to believe I'm here right now doing this."

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