By Marshall Kramsky of WCPO
In the shadows of the Cincinnati skyline, the Northern Kentucky town of Ludlow has a lot of charm.
Matt Brock and his wife, Leslie Brock, own the restaurant “1975”. The mom-and-pop shop is located on the corner between Ludlow High School and the football stadium.
“I would say (Ludlow is) the greatest place in the world to me, man,” Matt Brock said.
The restaurant, “1975”, is an homage to the 1975 Ludlow High School football team, the only year in school history the team won the Kentucky High School Football State Championship.
“Sometimes a small town can be tough to kind of make it out of and I think kids need to realize that there is greatness that comes from here and can come from here,” Matt Brock said.
Since 1975, greatness has been few and far between for Ludlow football.
“These past couple years, we haven’t really had the best football team,” Ludlow All-District sophomore running back/linebacker Dameyn Anness said.
This year is different. The Panthers are on their deepest playoff run since 1975. Anness is at the heart of this storybook season.
“He’s tough, he’s battle tested,” Ludlow Head Coach Woody McMillen said.
Battle tested in more ways than just breaking through the line of scrimmage.
Within the last few years Dameyn and his older brother Devlyn lost their grandmother and mother. Their father is currently incarcerated.
“We’ve suffered through a lot of loss in our family,” Devlyn said.
“We mourn together, once one gets sad, the other one picks each other up. We just stay tight,” Dameyn said. “We are all each other got.”
Their grandfather, Mike Whitaker, became the Anness brothers’ legal guardian.
“He’s always pushed through it and provided everything me and my brother ever needed,” Dameyn said.
Through it all, the Anness brothers have nothing but love and appreciation for their family, but they needed new caretakers.
“I couldn’t do nothing for them anyway. I was in a wheelchair. I can’t help them no more. I can’t be like I should be,” Whitaker said.
Despite having already having four kids at home, the Brocks were one of the only families willing to take both brothers.
“They wanted to stay in Ludlow,” Leslie Brock said.
“I had no idea who any of the families were to be honest. Dameyn chose the Brocks and said ‘we are going with the Brocks’ and I was like OK that’s cool let’s go,” Devlyn said.
“I just wanted to help like anyone in the community would,” Matt Brock said.
“It’s just not like, I’m your mom or your mom. Or I’m your aunt or I’m your uncle. Everybody, it’s just like it’s family here,” Leslie Brock said.
“Whenever we moved in with them, it was like a puzzle with the missing piece we just clicked,” Dameyn said.
“No doubt about that at all. They’re family,” Devlyn said about the Brocks.
Off the football field, Dameyn had his struggles in school. But with the Brocks, that all changed.
“When he moved in with the Brocks that’s when he started getting better grades,” Whitaker said.
Grandpa Mike attributed Dameyn’s success to having better surroundings outside of the classroom.
“To have someone that tells you to do your homework at the end of the day. And he’s like ‘did you do this, have you done that.’ It helps,” Devlyn said.
“The feeling that you get when you actually do good. It’s nice. The first time I had that, it’s like a light switch. I always wanted to do good ever since,” Dameyn said.
A light switch more commonly known as confidence.
“You’re meant to do something more, you just don’t know what that more is. We found our more when we took in these boys,” Leslie Brock said.
Wanting more is how Dameyn is leading the Panthers Cinderella run, scoring two offensive touchdowns and one defensive pick-6 in one of the team’s playoff wins.
“Everyone that’s always ever believed in you…you go out there and just do everything you can,” Dameyn said.
Hoping to give Ludlow’s lone 1975 State Championship, a new family member.
“We will have to change the name (of the restaurant) if we win state that’s for sure,” Leslie Brock said.
Ludlow plays Kentucky Country Day in the state quarterfinals Friday night.