Wayland football coach pleased with fall practice, preparing for spring

January 4, 2012

PLAINVIEW – With the start of Wayland Baptist University’s inaugural football season just eight months away, head coach Butch Henderson is mired in preparation. With a leadership class on campus and the initial fall practice schedule in the books, Henderson is pleased with where his team is, but knows they still have a long way to go.

More than 100 young men signed on to play football with the leadership class in the fall of 2011. Aside from typical off-season workouts, Henderson and the team spent basically two months working on the specific aspects of the system that the Pioneers will run.

“We took September as physical conditioning and tried to teach the system,” Henderson said. “Then we implemented the system in the month of October.”

The fall workouts culminated in an intrasquad scrimmage held at Plainview High School’s Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium, where the Pioneers will play their games. Henderson and his coaching staff ran as many plays as possible within a set time limit, running athletes on and off the field to give everyone an opportunity to participate, and to give the coaches the opportunity to evaluate.

“I was really pleased with the distance that we got in the fall,” the coach said. “What we were able to teach and find gave us a starting point for knowing exactly where we are and what we need to recruit around and what we have that we know is really good.”

Needless to say, the fall practice season set the table for further work as the coaching staff prepares for spring practice and to hit the recruiting trail. Henderson said he has been pleased with the team’s fundamentals.

“I am really pleased with the kids we have and what we are able to do,” Henderson said. “Our kids can throw and catch the football. I think our defensive front likes to hit and moves to the ball really well.”

The Pioneers will run a spread offense, taking advantage of the passing game. Henderson said he has a couple of capable quarterbacks and receivers as well as a tailback who actually played for him at Coronado High School in Lubbock. Kendall Roberson is a transfer student from Eastern New Mexico who was recruited by Wayland coach Jeff Lynn.

“Coach Lynn new where he was and actually had him lined up before I came here,” Henderson said. “He has been really helpful, especially with the running backs because he already knows the system. They can watch him and see what he is doing.”

Henderson has not only worked with the athletes in the fall, but also has worked to put together a coaching staff. David Sparkman will serve as the defensive coordinator and is a full-time assistant. There are also four graduate assistants currently on staff. Henderson said the group has been a valuable asset in putting the plans together.

“The four guys working as GAs are really doing the work of full-time coaches,” Henderson said. “They are really great coaches. We are fortunate that we have a staff like this.”

One of the top priorities for the group will be to fill the recruiting needs prior to the team’s September kickoff. Henderson said they will focus on recruiting speed and depth. In his system, Henderson does a lot of substituting and wants to make sure the guys coming off the sideline are as talented as those on the field.

That being said, the strenuous practice schedule has already taken its toll on the overall numbers in the football program. Henderson said they started practice with 122 players. By the end of the fall term, that number was down to 73. He explained that many of the original 122 were kids who just wanted to see what it was like to play college football, but with the stress off class schedules and practice time, they decided to focus on other areas. Henderson is pleased with the number still in the program and said another 15 to 20 athletes will join the group this month. The coaching staff will also bring in another recruiting class in the fall before the season gets underway.

“There is still a lot of excitement,” Henderson said. “The kids are excited about what they are going to do. I think they handled not getting the opportunity to play this fall and just focusing on practice. That creates a hunger. They are ready to play against somebody other than themselves.

“I’m just excited about playing,” Henderson said. “I’m excited about what the kids are doing and excited that this first class has really been a great example to build a foundation with.”

The Pioneers kickoff their season on Sept. 1 in San Antonio against Monterrey (Mexico) Tech.