South Fayette grad getting his kicks at Waynesburg
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While many college football players will amp themselves up before taking the field on Saturdays, Waynesburg's Alex Henry prefers to stay calm, cool and collected.
“I try to stay as relaxed and focused as possible,” the senior kicker said. “If I go in hyped, it's not good. I don't play a position. All I do is kick a ball.”
The approach has worked as his kicking has been a success story for the Yellow Jackets the last two seasons – even leading to Henry making the All-Presidents Athletic Conference second team in 2012.
When Henry began his athletic career at Waynesburg, he was solely focused on soccer. Coming out of high school he was recruited by Waynesburg to play both sports but he decided to focus on soccer instead of spreading himself too thin.
But after Henry's sophomore season on the soccer field, the team went through a coaching change and Henry reevaluated his situation.
“I already had a relationship with coach (Rick) Shepas,” Henry said. “I went out to spring ball sophomore year and fell in love with the team. It might have been two years since I kicked a football but it was like I never missed it.”
The move turned out to be a good one. As a junior, Henry connected on all 32 of his point-after attempts and was three of nine in field goal attempts with a long of 39 yards. He secured a 23-21 win for the Yellow Jackets over Bethany as he drilled a 26-yard field goal as time expired.
His 41 points was third overall on the team last season. The successful junior campaign secured a spot for Henry on the all-PAC conference second team.
“That was a surprise,” Henry said. “It was a huge honor.”
Heading into his senior season, Henry focused on improving the accuracy of his kicks. While he didn't avoid the weight room, he knew his accuracy had to improve to be successful.
“It is great if I can kick the ball 50 yards but if I am not accurate, I'm not doing my job,” Henry said. “Over the summer, I didn't kick the ball outside of the 30-yard line. Out of 20 balls a day, I probably kicked 15 outside of the hash marks close to the numbers. There were some pretty extreme angles.”
The extra work helped as his stats have increased in 2013 – he is eighgt of 12 in field-goal attempts with a long of 43 yards and has connected on 31 of 32 PATs.
Henry also has taken over kickoff duties and is averaging more than 54 yards a kick.
The senior credits his relationship with holder Thomas Paulone – who also serves as a running back – for some of his success on the field.
“He is a great guy,” Henry said. “I wouldn't want anyone else holding the ball. If I need to do some work in practice, he is always there to help.”
Henry's kicking has been a part of a successful two-year run for the Yellow Jackets. The team went 11-1 last season and finished the season with a 28-24 win over Carnegie Mellon in the ECAC Southwest Bowl. Waynesburg has continued the success and has started the 2013 season 6-2.
While finding success with the team has been enjoyable, being able to continue a sport he loves has been the true driving force.
“You have to have fun,” Henry said. “I wouldn't be playing football if I didn't love it.”
Waynesburg ends its season on Nov. 16 when it travels it Washington & Jefferson. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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