Henry keeps it all going at Wellsboro

DAVE KENNEDY/For The Sun-Gazette
Quinn Henry and Wellsboro are the area’s lone unbeaten.

DAVE KENNEDY/For The Sun-Gazette Quinn Henry and Wellsboro are the area’s lone unbeaten.

The last time Quinn Henry played at Montgomery, his football life changed forever.

So did Wellsboro’s fortunes over the next three years. When starting quarterback Brandon Lamphier tore his ACL in a 2015 scrimmage at Montgomery it felt like the team’s season might be over before it started.

A player who never before played quarterback was now being handed the keys. Henry was a long-time wide receiver, but Wellsboro hoped his athletic ability could keep the offense going. But they never could have envisioned what happened next. Nor could Henry. And anyone else who says that they saw it coming is lying.

What started as a disaster paved the way for the birth of a Wellsboro legend. Henry made a seamless transition, topped 1,000 rushing and passing yards as a sophomore and led Wellsboro to its first District 4 championship. He has only grown better and more dynamic since and, back at Montgomery Friday, he entered exclusive company.

Henry accounted for four touchdowns in a 51-8 win at the field where everything changed, reaching 100 for his career. A player who never took a snap until 2015, now has 6,639 career yards of total offense, 100 touchdowns and has helped Wellsboro (8-0) go 32-4.

“I honestly never thought that would happen,” Henry said. “I knew I had to fill a role and step up. Someone had to step in and fill a role and that’s what I wanted to do.”

He has done it in a dazzling style, one few other area quarterbacks have ever been able to emulate. Only former Loyalsock quarterback Kyle Datres has totaled more touchdowns than Henry has. The speedy 5-foot-11 senior is nearing his second 1,000-1,000 season and only an injury last year kept it from possibly being three straight. He is a human joy stick who leaves tacklers grasping air and leaves defensive backs in his dust.

Oh yeah, Henry can throw too. He is 104 yards from his third straight 1,000-yard campaign. He is the total package and he has become a defensive coordinator’s constant nightmare.

“He does stuff that I couldn’t even imagine,” center Collin Pietropola said. “He definitely makes it easy on us blocking-wise. We get a hand on someone and he’s breaking tackles. He’s definitely a special player. You don’t get players like that a lot.”

Henry does everything. He runs, he throws…Heck, he even has 20 career receptions for 522 yards. He also is an excellent safety who gracefully moves from sideline to sideline and he has returned three punts for touchdowns the past two seasons. The latest came against Montgomery when he zigged, zagged and exploded past a series of defenders on a 49-yard return.

The ironic part is that Henry might also be District 4’s best kept secret. Those in the Northern Tier League know exactly how super Henry is and many might suspect he is wearing an “S” under his jersey. But move deeper South and Henry’s name does not always come up when discussing the district’s best players. And that makes no sense.

Why many might not understand how ridiculously skilled Henry is remains a mystery. Wellsboro already had won 18 games in two years before he arrived, but Henry is a major reason this program has remained dominant. Two more wins ensures Wellsboro captures either a league or district championship in each of his three years starting. He has made his mark against every team he has faced, including Old Forge and South Williamsport the last two years.

As good as Wellsboro is collectively, take away Henry and the whole team’s dynamic changes. Who the district’s best player is remains a tough and loaded question. Henry, though, might be its most valuable player.

“We call him the video game. He’s a freak out there,” Hildebrand said. “People don’t realize how good he is. He really should be getting more attention than he is from colleges and things like that. He does so many things on the football field that, I don’t care what level and what opponent you are playing, that you can’t teach. It’s not because of things I do or tell him to do. He puts himself in those positions and turns a bad play into a good play.”

Henry has virtually been unstoppable this season. He has thrown for 896 yards and 10 touchdowns while running for 874 yards and 21 scores. For good measure, Henry also caught a touchdown pass. He has produced multiple touchdowns in every game, averages 12.9 yards per carry and produced three touchdowns the first four times he touched the ball against Montgomery. The one time on those four touches that Henry did not score, he still returned a punt 35 yards and set up another touchdown.

“I think I’ve improved on being able to read a defense and being able to make adjustments at the line,” Henry said. “My game play has gotten a little better but I can’t do that without the offensive line and all my teammates helping me out.”

Henry is that rare player who whenever he touches the football has the chance to score and/or make something special happen. He has proven it every time he’s taken the field the last three years and those who do not believe in, beware. Henry is receiving Division II interest and some Division I schools are jumping on board. He certainly is providing them all quite a highlight video.

What started as a disaster two years ago provided a turning point. From the ashes, rose one of the best football players Wellsboro has ever produced.

“He’s definitely one of a kind. He doesn’t get enough attention and I’m not sure if people really realize what he is all about,” Hildebrand said. “He’s going to have a really bright future and someone is going to get a special football player next year.”

EXTRA POINTS: Montoursville has kept grinding through a tough season and it paid off Friday as it rallied for a 22-21 overtime win against Milton. The Warriors overcame an eight-point second-quarter deficit and Oleg Bonner played his best scholastic game, running for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Washington made an end zone interception to force overtime and the defense allowed just six second-half points … Warrior Run defeated Hughesville for the first time since 2006, going on the road and winning, 16-9. The Defenders forced two key turnovers and made a late stand as Hughesville drove for the tying touchdown. Gage Anzulavich threw for 208 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, Riley Daubert caught 13 passes and sophomore Ahmahd Keyes continued emerging as a weapon, catching four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Jase Wright had a big game for Hughesville, running for 152 yards on just 11 carries and catching three passes for 74 yards … Loyalsock (5-3) recorded its best win this season, routing Bloomsburg, 39-12. The starting defense allowed just 99 yards and has surrendered only four touchdowns in five wins. Cole Cavanaugh ran for 124 yards and caught a touchdown while Geno Ginbole, Carmen Barone (3 tackles for loss) and emerging Bam Bam Brima all had sacks … North Penn-Mansfield boosted its District 4 Class AA chances and allowed just 46 yards, defeating Cowanesque Valley, 50-8. The Panthers (5-3) moved to No. 8 in the standings and the top eight advance. Brent Burleigh threw five touchdown passes and Nick Kasper and Justin Shedd caught two each while Brendan Hill ran for 137 yards … Canton (3-5) destroyed Sayre in all facets Saturday, winning 33-0 and outgaining it, 618-59. Uriah Baille threw 99 and 70-yard touchdowns and Timmy Ward (135 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Michael Smithers both topped 100 rushing yards … Bucktail running back/wide receiver Logan Long caught five passes for 108 yards and a touchdown against Muncy, topping 100 yards for a third time.

Dr. Masse’s top five in football

1. South Williamsport (7-1): Make it six straight league championships. South captured its second consecutive HAC-III title and sixth straight overall, counting its old NTL days, while making a major statement at Central Columbia. The Mounties handed Central its first loss, made a goal-line stand that symbolizes everything the program is about and won, 28-17. South has never lost a league game during those six championship years. The Mounties made that goal-line stand on the game’s first series, stuffing one of the district’s best offenses on three straight plays from the 1-yard line. The defense has been outstanding since Week 2 and is a major reason South is a league champion again. Linemen Ben Johnson, Griffyn Metzger and Chevy Bolay spent most of their nights in the Central backfield, Reilly Barnes recovered a fumble and A.J. Flick and Chris Klem intercepted passes. Hunter Finn is making a solid receiving unit even better and caught two touchdowns, including a 23-yarder to open the scoring on fourth down. Workhorse running back Gideon Green fought through the pain of a sprained neck, running for 279 yards and two touchdowns and showing that his heart is every bit as big as his talent.

2. Wellsboro (8-0): When Wellsboro played at Montgomery seven years ago it was in the midst of two straight 1-9 seasons. The current players grew up watching those teams struggle and were determined to change things. Seven years later, Wellsboro has become one of the district’s biggest winners. The Hornets are 47-8 since 2013 and are two wins away from completing their third undefeated regular season during that time.

“It’s definitely awesome. It started with the 2013 players. They paved the way and we’re just trying to keep it going and trying not to mess up,” Pietropola said. “We’re doing a good job of it so far, but we just have to keep going. We have goals we want to strive for and we want to try and hit them.”

“It’s something special,” Henry said. “We had the dark days and they were rough. We were tired of losing all the time and it’s crazy to see how the program flipped the course in a couple of years. It’s all the guys coming together working hard in the offseason. It’s just grinding and trying to get better.”

3. Williamsport (6-2): Williamsport was missing a starting guard Saturday at Coughlin but never missed a beat. All-state guard Kurt Danneker moved to center, Marshall Nork replaced injured Chance Bower and combined with Tucker Kreisher, Quadir Walker, Dalton Kriner and tight end Ethen Stryker to manhandle Coughlin. That unit paved the way for 533 yards as Williamsport moved the ball at will and routed Coughlin, 55-10. This was exactly the performance Williamsport needed coming off a humbling Delaware Valley loss and showed how dangerous it can be. The Millionaires had no negative plays on their 55 plays, Joe Fagnano threw for 286 yards, Alec Dickey ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns and Marcus Simmons caught his district-high 50th pass. If the Millionaires build off what they did Saturday, big things seem possible.

4. Muncy (7-1): The road to the District 4 Class A championship will travel through Muncy. The Indians clinched the district’s top seed and captured the NTL-II championship for the first time since 2010 by downing Bucktail, 52-12. Muncy is off to its best start in the 2000s and has scored 115 points the last two weeks. Running back Colby Alpaugh is putting together a terrific senior season and ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns. Alpaugh is closing in on a 1,000-yard season and has totaled 18 touchdowns three different ways. Kolby Moyer is a valuable two-way starter and returned an interception for a touchdown against Bucktail as Muncy built a 42-0 halftime lead.

5. Jersey Shore (5-3): The defending District 4 Class AAAA champions showed why they remain dangerous, overpowering Shamokin, 32-0. The defense overwhelmed and Shamokin, allowing just six yards and two first downs. Jersey Shore shut off all running lanes, constantly harassed the quarterback and produced a score when Stanton Westin recovered a fumble for a third-quarter touchdown. The Bulldogs also recorded two safeties, showing the kind of defensive power that has helped it won two of the last four district championships. The offense showed signs of life as Elijah Shemory found Koby Peacock for two touchdowns and running back Kyle Tomb topped 100 yards for the sixth time. Shemory went over 4,000 career yards and Peacock is among the area leaders with seven touchdown catches.

Players of the week

Connor Watkins, Loyalsock and Levi Gaiotti, Canton: Watkins played one of his best games against Bloomsburg, throwing for 238 yards and five touchdowns. Just as impressive, Watkins threw those five touchdowns to five different receivers and ran for a touchdown. The junior quarterback went over 4,000 career yards and has totaled 26 touchdowns this year, throwing for 1,517 yards. Gaiotti was all about the big play against Sayre, catching 99 and 70-yard touchdown passes while finishing with three catches for 182 yards. Gaiotti also was part of a stifling defense that held Sayre to 59 yards and intercepted a pass.

Game of the week

South Williamsport at Muncy: Two of the area’s best teams collide Friday on Senior Night at Stanley Schuyler Stadium. Although Muncy lost at South last year, it started its District 4 Class A championship march that night. The Indians played South tough and from there, won their first district title in three decades. Muncy is hoping it can make a bigger splash this time. South needs a win to stay third in the Class AA field so this is a big game for two teams whose foundations are built upon physical football.

— CHRIS MASSE

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