Henderson hired to coach Hornets

Published 5:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2004

OCEAN SPRINGS – Wade Henderson spent a year on the Gulf Coasthelping turn around the Ocean Springs football program but isleaving to become head coach at Loyd Star High near Brookhaven.Henderson was a defensive coordinator under head coach Steve Jonesand helped revive a moribund Greyhound program that had compiled a1-20 record over the previous two seasons.

“His intensity level will be missed,” Jones said. “We’ve workedtogether for many years but he’d looked at five or six jobs, tryingto find a good opportunity for himself. He’s taking over a placewhere they’ve traditionally done well, so he’s putting a lot ofpressure on himself to do well. I think he will.”

The Hornets went 10-0 in the regular season, but lost to BaySprings in the first round of the 2A playoffs.

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“I found out in talking with the assistant coaches there thatthe stadium is always full of people and there is an expectancy towin,” Henderson said Wednesday. “They’ve got all their skillplayers coming back next year but almost no offensive linemen.We’ll have a lot of work to do but I feel like the fans there andthe administration will be behind me.”

With Henderson and other new assistants joining Jones, OceanSprings lost three of four in an early stretch of the 2003 season.The team rebounded to win four of its last five regular seasongames. The Greyhounds fell to Picayune in the first round of the 5Aplayoffs, but wound up with a 7-5 overall record.

“Our defense finished the year rated No. 7 in the state and ouroffense was ranked No. 9 overall,” Henderson said. “We inherited abunch of kids who were hungry to win, but needed to make someattitude adjustments.”

Loyd Star athletic director Shannon Eubanks said he’s preparedto allow Henderson the freedom to pull double duty as the semesterwinds out here on the Coast.

“It’s my understanding that he will come here and go throughspring training with our team, but still work at Ocean Springsthrough May,” Eubanks said. “He will be (inheriting) severalcoaches who are familiar with the team and they will all go throughit together this spring.

“We are really excited because everywhere we checked, WadeHenderson was highly recommended. Everyone says he’s a winner and aclass person.”

Except for the 2001 season when the Hornets went 3-7, Loyd Starhas averaged 10 wins over the past five years.

Pending board of education approval, Charles Sabbatini will bethe new defensive coordinator at Ocean Springs after working in thesame capacity the past three seasons at Mississippi Gulf CoastCommunity College.

“Coach Sabbatini has a lot of experience and hopefully we won’tmiss a beat,” Jones said. “He’s been in meetings with us alreadyand we’re planning for our spring practices.”

Henderson, 37, a native of Ackerman, graduated from Ackerman in1985 . He attended Holmes Community College for two years on afootball scholarship as an offensive lineman, earning all-statehonors. He went to Southern Arkansas University and thentransferred to Millsaps College and played two years for theMajors.

“One thing that attracted me to Loyd Star was because itreminded me of Ackerman,” said Henderson.

Henderson met with the Loyd Star varsity team members Tuesday.Spring practice begins Monday at Loyd Star. Henderson will splittime during the three-week period.

He graduated from Mississippi State University and finished witha degree in education and physical education. He has a mastersdegree in sports administration.

Henderson played two summer seasons with a minor leagueprofessional football team in the Birmingham Fire organizationbefore entering the coaching field.

He taught school in Sylacauga, Ala. between seasons. He coachedat Columbus, Miss., high school for two years. He also coached atNorthwest Rankin for four years and at Florence for four years asdefensive coordinator under Jones.

Henderson, 37, will be married in June. He met his future wifein the church choir.

Loyd Star assistant coaches Jonathan Breakfield and JoshThibodeaux have indicated they want to remain on staff. Hendersonreplaces Sidney Wheatley who resigned after two years at the helm.Wheatley said he wants to find employment closer to his familywhich resides in Mobile, Ala.