Share This Page

Kittanning wide receiver should flourish in new spread scheme

| Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, 12:41 a.m.
Kittanning senior wide receiver Sterling Henry carries the ball during practice in August 2012. Bill West | Leader Times

Earlier this week, Kittanning senior Sterling Henry reminded some football teammates about his exceptional athleticism.

Several Wildcats sat around outside the David “Red” Ullom fieldhouse before their evening practice on Wednesday and watched as players tried to hit pitched tennis balls with a wooden broomstick.

The first two boys barely made contact with pitches. Then Henry, who stopped playing baseball more than a year ago, cracked a hard grounder with his first swing. He sent the second ball sailing into the tennis courts more than 50 yards away.

Henry will look to wow teammates, fans and opponents a few times this fall from his wide receiver position. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound second-year starter is a primary threat in Kittanning's spread offense. And he's hoping his decision to stick with football rather than focus solely on his best sport, basketball, as a senior will prove wise.

“I think we have a good shot this year to make it to the playoffs, which is something we haven't done for a while,” Henry said. “And we have new coaches, which I think is a big step, too.”

First-year Wildcats coach Frank Fabian wanted as many players at offseason practices as possible. But he wondered how often he'd see Henry, who belonged to two AAU basketball teams during the summer.

In the end, basketball barely interfered.

“We were ecstatic to have him here for the majority of the summer,” Fabian said.

Those offseason months allowed assistant coaches Chris Hooks and Brad Bowers to work with Henry on an area in need of improvement — dealing with double coverage and physical pressure at the line of scrimmage.

“We anticipate a lot of press cover for him, maybe some help over the top,” Fabian said, “(We have) really been working with him on releases and route running.”

Henry dealt with a fair share of double teams a season ago. Kittanning's top and sometimes only downfield threat, he had 14 catches for 271 yards and two TDs.

Henry wants to reach the 1,000-yard mark this season. He's confident he can navigate his way upfield after grabbing the short passes — slants, curls and screens — that thrive in the spread system.

Fabian is familiar with the knock against lanky receivers with basketball player builds — they're great in 7-on-7 scrimmages, but they're less effective once the pads come into play.

“I look at him as a talented wide receiver,” Fabian said. “We always say we want to play a little basketball in the grass. It's kind of a saying we have, and he fits into that well.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wwest@tribweb.com or 724-543-1303, Ext. 1321.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.