Carrying on tradition

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

He's the quarterback, he wears No. 11, and his team's colours are blue and gold.

If you're thinking of the one and only Ken Ploen, arguably the greatest Winnipeg Blue Bomber, then you would be correct.

You would also be accurate, however, if you said Ryan Hosegood, the 12-year-old quarterback for the Fort Garry Lions peewee team in the Manitoba Minor Football Association.

Ploen and Hosegood have more in common than their position, jersey number and team colours, however. It's actually much stronger than that.

They are grandfather and grandson.

"He made me very proud," Ploen said. "He said, 'I want to play quarterback, and I want No. 11.' So that makes me feel good."

"Probably the reason I'm playing quarterback is because of him," Hosegood said. "If not I'd probably be back at running back or wide receiver."

Hosegood will lead Fort Garry into battle today at 12:30 p.m. against the North Winnipeg Nomads East squad in an MMFA peewee semifinal at Century Arena field, and Ploen will be there to cheer on his grandson.

He won't be giving tips, however. Ploen never does that. He leaves it up to his wife, Janet, who is always quick to offer football suggestions to her grandson.

"That's not surprising," Ploen said, "because when I was playing I got a few from her, too."

Hosegood's closest friends know that his grandfather is a Bomber great, but most do not because of their different last names.

"Everybody who's, like, 20 (years old), I'll be like, 'My grandpa's Kenny Ploen,'" Hosegood said. "They'll be like, 'Who?' "

Therefore, there is no extra pressure on Hosegood than there normally would be for a young gridiron fanatic who is trying to guide his team to the city title match next weekend at Canad Inns Stadium.

"No, not at all," said Hosegood, who recently did a school project on his grandpa's career. "Right now it's not whether you win or lose. It's whether you go out there and have fun."

That's music to Ploen's ears. He could not care less about what his grandson does on the field, as long as he has fun doing it. Ploen has lived that lesson this week during the Ring in a Night of Nostalgia celebrations, which brought together all the Bomber players from their four Grey Cup championship teams of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

"It's fun having teammates, and when I reflect back and get to see some of the guys I played with I haven't seen for 20 years and some of them I saw yesterday, it doesn't matter," Ploen said. "It just seems like we were all together yesterday anyway. So there's some good benefits that come out of camaraderie and good friendships."

Hosegood tossed the pigskin around with grandpa at the lake and in the backyard, and he would love to follow his grandfather's footsteps onto a CFL field one day.

"Hopefully, or maybe the NFL," he said. "But I was watching NFL hits on YouTube last night and it was kind of creepy, quarterbacks getting hammered."

He also loves playing hockey, however, and he has even bigger ideas than pro sports for his adult life.

"After that I want to be an architect," he said. "I love to design stuff, but we'll see what happens as the years go on."

In the first round of the playoffs, Hosegood scored three rushing touchdowns in Fort Garry's 40-18 win over the St. James Rods. He also completed a pair of 25-yard passes, which in peewee football are comparable to 80-yard bombs in the CFL.

Fort Garry coach Ted Higham was an Eskimos fan as a kid but remembers watching Ploen dominate the CFL game. Higham can see a little bit of Ploen in Hosegood.

"Oh yeah. He's got the same legs and same hip movements," Higham said. "I never got a chance to talk to Kenny Ploen. You just saw him play. But from what I hear, he's got a little cocky attitude in him? So does his grandson.

"The fact this is the first year he's actually played quarterback, he's probably one of the best quarterbacks in the league. That might be arguable, but for a kid he can run and he's got a tremendous arm."

Considering Ploen was famous for throwing the odd wobbly pass, perhaps Ryan Hosegood is already ahead of the game.


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