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Deer Creek wide receiver Cole Verble uses late father's athletic achievements as a benchmark

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS — Deer Creek receiver Cole Verble struggled after the death of his father, Paul Verble. But Cole decided to use his athletic ability as a way to grow as a person, dedicating more and more time to improving.
by Jacob Unruh Published: November 14, 2013

EDMOND — The album looks like any other old one found on a bookshelf. What's on the inside is what really matters.

There are pictures of Paul Verble making incredible leaping catches on the Purcell football field.

There are newspaper articles recapping Verble's dominance, displaying his statistics and boasting his many honors.

Each page tells a different story about the former Purcell and Northwestern Oklahoma State athlete.

His son, Cole, flips through studiously, hoping that somehow he can be at least comparable to — but hopefully better than — his father.

The album is now just one of many things Cole keeps to remember his father.

“I'm almost his equivalent now and I'm really proud of that, at least with football,” said Cole, a senior wide receiver at Deer Creek.

Paul, a captain for the Edmond Fire Department, died in February 2010, leaving behind his wife and three kids.

It also left Cole, the middle child then in the eighth grade, without his personal coach.

“He taught me how to be a good receiver, even though I was not to the age of high school yet,” Cole said. “We would always go out in the front yard and play catch and he would always tell me when the ball is in the air to use a burst of speed to get to the ball.

“Just having that absent, I had to work on things on my own and it pushed me harder.”

Cole has since developed into the Antlers' top receiver, but now faces possibly his final football game Friday night in Lawton when Deer Creek takes on Lawton MacArthur in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

‘I feel empowered'

Cole's first touchdown reception of the season was a moment of redemption.

He caught a 19-yard pass over the middle from quarterback Caden Sander during the second quarter of the Antlers' 41-21 rout of Shawnee on Sept. 13 and then pointed to the sky before kneeling down, a touching moment that was captured by The Oklahoman's Jim Beckel in a photo.

“I honestly wanted to thank God for allowing me to have the talent to do that,” Cole said. “I knew that I was missing him in the stands because I knew that he would be there and he'd be really proud. Just dedicating this year for him is like my pride and the reason why I work.”

Cole, though, struggled after his father's death.

He lost interest in watching sports, but then he used his athletic ability as a way to grow as a person, dedicating more and more time to improving.

He picked up pole vaulting, like his father, and swimming. Paul was an exceptional athlete in high school. He finished second in the Class 2A pole vault and was named to The Daily Oklahoman's Little All-City football team in 1984.

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by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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