ShareThis Page

Va. high school coach holds close ties to Narduzzi, Blewitt

| Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, 8:30 p.m.

Eric Henderson knows his Saturday will be busy, filled with hours of video review and many other tasks a high school football coach encounters on the day after a game.

Henderson coaches at Hayfield High School in Alexandria, Va. His team is 5-1 and averages 49 points. It's a bit of a big deal.

Then, there's his family. His son, Jon, a defensive lineman at Geneva, has a game against Carnegie Mellon on Saturday night.

But through it all, Henderson will take more than a few glances at the telecast of Pitt's game at Virginia.

“If not, I'll record it and watch it later,” he said.

Two of Henderson's favorite people are involved — Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi and kicker Chris Blewitt.

Henderson and Narduzzi were teammates in the late 1980s at Rhode Island.

“We went through our fair share of adversity,” Henderson said. “The guys that got through it were closer friends and stronger people for it. I hope that bond is still there. I think it is.”

Years later, Blewitt entered Henderson's life as a friend of his sons, Jon and Caleb, a quarterback at Maryland. The three friends met in grade school and remain close to this day.

Blewitt, who played for Henderson at West Potomac High School through his junior year, has turned into the most prolific kicker in Pitt history with school records for field goals (52) and kicking points (315) by what he calls “shutting off the brain.”

“You think about things too much,” he said, “you start second-guessing yourself and making mistakes.”

Henderson corrected himself when he called Blewitt “a great kid.”

“He's a man. He's 21.”

But he can be excused.

“Whenever the boys' schedules sync up, we always find Chris in our living room playing Xbox and eating our food,” Henderson said. “We consider him kind of the third son we never had.”

Caleb was a four-star recruit, with an offer from Michigan State when Narduzzi was on the staff.

“We took a trip to East Lansing, and I remember how gracious he was toward my son,” said Henderson, a 26-year coaching veteran. “How professional and people-oriented he was. That's one of the reputations that Pat has. He's a player's coach.

“Not to say he's soft or lacks discipline, but kids will play for him. That's half the battle with today's generation.”

Henderson played offensive tackle, and Narduzzi was a linebacker. They seldom encountered each other in practices, but Henderson said Narduzzi was “as fiery as a player as he was as a coach.”

“You could tell he was part of a football family because he treated it so seriously,” Henderson said. “Intense, attention to detail, doing the right thing.

“You just get it on a different level.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.