Grandmother has season to remember
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Every year when Verlene LeRock welcomes her family home for Thanksgiving Day dinner at Grandma's house, she counts her blessings.
The Plainville woman admits she has many, and each year she seems to add a few more.
The year 2013 will be one to remember.
After watching one of her grandsons win a state football championship last weekend to finish his senior season undefeated, she will watch another grandson try to do the same Saturday.
Isaiah Horton is a senior offensive and defensive end on the unbeaten Beloit High School squad that will play Silver Lake in the Class 3A state title game Saturday in Hutchinson.
One week earlier, LeRock was in the stands to watch Maverick LeRock, a senior fullback for Osborne, help lead the Bulldogs to the Eight-Man Division I state championship Saturday at Newton.
"Definitely been fun this fall," said LeRock, who has been attending football games on Friday nights for a long time.
Maverick's dad, Wes LeRock, was a member of Plainville's state championship team as a freshman at PHS in 1980 when the Cardinals beat Silver Lake -- coincidentally, Beloit's same opponent Saturday. Before that, Wes' older brother, Gary, played in the backfield for PHS.
Verlene LeRock also has been cheering on state champs in her family for a while.
Youngest son Wes won a state wrestling title during his senior year at Plainville in 1984 to go along with his state football championship, and yet another grandson, Garrison LeRock, won the Class 2A state high jump title in track as a sophomore at Cimarron High School in 2011.
Coincidences abound in sports for the LeRock family, including Maverick wearing the same jersey number (32) and playing the same position (fullback) as his dad and uncle Gary (Garrison's dad) did while playing for Plainville.
And Grandma LeRock can whip off many more coincidences.
There's the one that Osborne hadn't won a state football title since 1983; the Bulldogs beat Wes' Plainville team en route to the state championship game that year. Beloit's last state title came in 1996, when Isaiah was just 11 months old.
But there is one potential likeness front and center on Grandma's mind this weekend.
"We're hoping on another state champion Saturday," she said.
That would be bittersweet for Verlene LeRock, whose husband, Gary -- an avid sports fan, too -- died in March 2012.
Grandpa LeRock did get to see Garrison win the state high jump title but missed out on the special 2013 football season.
"He would have loved this," Verlene LeRock said of her husband.
"But I'm sure he's been watching, cheering them on from heaven."