- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

FORT RECOVERY, Ohio (AP) - Herb and Charlene Homan have enjoyed some memorable moments watching their grandkids play football over the years.

None of those moments, however, will ever top this weekend.

The Homan’s have five grandsons suiting up for the three Midwest Athletic Conference teams - Fort Recovery, Marion Local and Coldwater - playing in state football championship games.

It’s a story that’s garnered a lot of attention not only in Mercer County but also throughout Ohio. After all, not many grandparents can say they’ve had five grandsons play in the state final - let alone in the same season. And Herb and Charlene plan on being at Ohio Stadium in Columbus for all three games.

“It’s beyond words really. It’s very exciting,” said Charlene, more commonly known as “Toots.”



“It will be really exciting if all three come back state champs,” Herb added.

A trio of those grandsons has played big roles for Herb and Charlene’s hometown team - the Fort Recovery Indians. They include sophomore Will Homan and senior brother Ross, sons of Todd and Michele, and junior Cole Dues, son of Curt and Amy. Senior Zach Homan will try and help the Coldwater Cavaliers claim their fourth title in a row, and Marion Local sophomore Derek Ruhenkamp will be on the sideline as the Flyers go for five straight.

“It’s special that we all get to go to the same place, that our grandparents get to watch us, all of our uncles and aunts - everyone’s going to be there supporting us,” Will said. “We’re going to be supporting our cousins. It’s going to be cool.”

Will and his Fort Recovery teammates are making their first-ever appearance in the state title game. Will has become somewhat of an overnight sensation in the backfield, rushing for 607 yards and nine touchdowns in four postseason games. Ross ranks second on the team with 102 tackles and has added two sacks. Dues has accumulated 104 yards rushing in nine games for the Indians, who face Mogadore in the Division VII state final at 3 p.m. on Friday.

“Five out of 19 (grandchildren) is pretty special,” Ross said. “Just three of us in the same conference getting here is pretty special. Coldwater and Marion are two state powers year in, year out. We’re trying to build a program to get up there year in, year out, just like them.”

Zach and Derek have already experienced the rush of winning a state title at Coldwater and Marion Local. They’re hoping their cousins get the same experience this weekend.

“We’ll be rooting for them,” Derek said. “It’s time for Fort Recovery to win a state title this year and I think it will happen.”

“They’re from the MAC - you’ve got to root for them to do well….Maybe not so much for No. 24 (Will),” Zach joked.

Herb and Charlene have rarely missed a Fort Recovery game since the program began in the early 1990s. They said they’ve enjoyed the success this season even more with their grandsons on the team.

“I just think the whole program is so great this year because of the teamwork,” Charlene said. “They all work so good together. They’re all out there protecting each other, and they’re all out there doing their jobs. I think that’s what their big success has been this year. Definitely proud of what Ross, Will and Cole have all done, and Zach and Derek, too.”

“It surprises me how well those kids get along on the field, Ross and Will,” Herb said. “Once in a while those two get into it out on the field. But they come back off the field and hug each other and congratulate each other. You’d never believe it when you see them at home.”

The grandparents of 19 also make time to go watch Zach and Derek play.

Zach has been a solid producer for the Cavaliers in his senior season, catching 22 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. The Cavs kick off the Friday slate of games at 10 a.m. with a rematch of last year’s Division V state title game against Canton Central Catholic.

Derek, a wide receiver/defensive back, will take the field with the Flyers when they face Kirtland in a highly-anticipated Division VI title game at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The five grandsons stood around Herb and Charlene for a photo wearing their high school uniforms in September. At the time it was taken, Will and Ross’s father, Todd, thought about how special it would be if all three teams reached the state finals. Herb had that same thought cross his mind when Fort Recovery began its playoff run.

“We played the first tournament game over in Fort Recovery,” Herb recalled. “My daughter-in-law was talking to me there and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could have all five grandsons at the state finals for three different teams?’ She said ‘Yeah, it really would be.’ By god, it came true!”

And now that it’s happened, Herb and Charlene are beaming with pride.

“I’m real proud. It’s just so great to see all five of them out there,” Herb said.

Added Charlene: “I couldn’t be any prouder because you know that they’ve all worked for it and they proved themselves. It’s fantastic.”

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