Headed to the Hall
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Eagle Staff Writer
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April 16, 2014
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Former Seneca Valley football coach Terry Henry, seen here during a game against Hopewell in 1989, will be inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame April 26.
Eagle File Photo
EAST BRADY — First, he was a young coach. Then, he was a rebuilding coach.
Terry Henry was always a successful coach. And it's that consistency that is landing the former East Brady and Seneca Valley football coach in the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame.
Henry will be inducted during the Hall's annual banquet April 26 at the Butler Days Inn.
“Coaching at East Brady, then Seneca Valley was like going from high school to college,” Henry said. “Everything was just bigger. We had 170 and 180-pound offensive linemen at East Brady. At Seneca Valley, linemen had to be 240 or 260 pounds to be able to compete.
“But athletes are athletes. There's no difference that way. Our skilled athletes at East Brady were just as good as our skilled athletes at Seneca Valley.”
Henry was just as good in both places as well.
He was head coach at East Brady — his alma mater — for nine years, compiling a record of 69-16-3. His teams won four Little 12 Conference titles.
Henry was a quarterback at Slippery Rock University before returning home to join the Bulldogs' football coaching staff.
“I applied for positions all over the state — some in pretty remote locations where I was almost happy I didn't get hired — before a teaching job opened up at my alma mater,” Henry said. “I was fortunate.
“I became a head coach at age 22 because our other two coaches left. Head coach Dave Schick retired and the top sssistant, Harry Beckwith, moved on to Kittanning. I was the only coach still there.”
Henry has remained close friends with many of the East Brady players he coached, including Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
“It was a unique situation because I wasn't that much older than the kids I was coaching,” Henry said. “I was 34 when I went to Seneca Valley, so there was more of an age gap there.
“Jim always included me in his career and that was a head coach's dream. I've been to 28 Super Bowls with him and his brothers, stayed in the same hotels as the Hall of Famers in Canton, met them, talked to them ... It's been incredible.”
So was Henry's tenure at Seneca Valley.
He coached the Raiders from 1984 through 1995, compiling a record of 74-48-4. SV had just two winning seasons in its 20-year football history before Henry's arrival. The team was 4-36 in the four years prior to Henry's arrival.
“Leaving East Brady was tough, but as a coach, you always think, 'Can I do it at the next level?' It was a challenge,” Henry said.
“The first thing we had to do at Seneca was instill commitment. Kids would take off to go to a concert and miss practice, for example. The commitment level to the program wasn't there when I arrived.”
The Raiders were not yet a Quad-A program, either. But Seneca Valley played the likes of Blackhawk, Hopewell, Aliquippa and Montour in Class AAA.
“Any of those teams could have competed in Quad-A and that competition helped get us ready for the jump up,” Henry said. “We had to stop considering ourselves too small to play the likes of Butler and North Allegheny.
“At East Brady, we were the smallest school in the league and nobody ever talked about it. You just played. Once we battled on even terms with North Allegheny and developed that rivalry, that mind-set kicked in. We believed we could play with anybody.”
Henry recalled SV defeated North Allegheny in a home game when the Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the state. He served as athletic director at Seneca as well.
“We were so busy selling tickets, getting standing room tickets printed ... I didn't have as much time to prepare for the game as I would have liked,” he said.
Henry guided the Raiders to the WPIAL playoffs in 1989, 1991 and 1995. The 1989 team played for the WPIAL championship at Three Rivers Stadium, losing 17-9 to Aliquippa. Henry led Seneca Valley to nine winning seasons in 12 years.
He stayed on as athletic director after giving up the football position.
“I had to make a choice, eventually,” he said. “I surrounded myself with good people, both on the football staff and in the office. Todd Schoeffel could have been athletic director himself, he was such a help. So was my secretary.
“One person can't do that job by himself.”
While the athletic director at SV, Henry was instrumental in the research, design and construction of the press box and field house at the football facility, along with securing turf for Raider Stadium.
Henry never returned to coaching after stepping down as Raiders head coach.
Tickets for the Hall of Fame banquet are available at www.bcshof.com, any Hall of Fame director, Moses Jewelers at the Clearview Mall, Bill's Beer Barn, Snack n' Pack, Parker Appliance in Chicora, Maddalon Jewelers in Zelienople or Saxonburg Drug.