Saturday, May 28, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
But during last year’s Sunrise Regional championship game against Liberty, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Henderson feels he didn’t play like it. The UNLV recruit completed just 17 of 35 passes for 164 yards with two interceptions and the Wildcats were soundly beaten, 35-14.
Some six months later, Henderson still thinks about the setback and often watches film of the game to analyze his shortcomings. It’s his way of making sure they don’t happen again.
“I have (tape) of the highlights I want to watch and none of them are good plays,” he said. “They are plays that shouldn’t have happened. It was all my fault — sacks, not getting rid of the ball, overthrows. It just lets me know I have to get better because I can’t let that happen again when my team is in the playoffs.”
Henderson, who also has recruiting interest from schools such as Oregon and Arkansas, will be a three-year starter in the fall. He’s typically the best athlete on the field on Friday nights, with the ability to throw the ball 65 yards flat-footed, superior strength and above-average speed.
It’s a total package that has colleges salivating.
Henderson, who passed for 2,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, has spent the offseason adding to his arsenal. He’s added roughly 10 pounds of muscle to an already impressive frame and is continuing to tweak his throwing motion — a once side-armed delivery appears to be transformed into the preferred over-the-top delivery.
“He is just a phenomenal athlete,” Las Vegas coach James Thurman said. “I tell recruiters he’s a kid with a 380-pound power clean and 300-pound squat. And he’s one of the fastest kids out here. He’s got great hips and explosion.”
During Las Vegas’ final spring practice Thursday, Henderson methodically worked on his throwing motion during warm-ups. When it came time for a scrimmage, he easily passed the ball down field in the Wildcats’ spread-option attack.
“I always try to over-exaggerate the throws (in warm-ups), so when it comes to the games my arm is already there,” said Henderson, who was intercepted just five times last year. He also rushed for 363 yards and six touchdowns on 83 carries.
Henderson and the Wildcats are out to prove they are still the class of the Sunrise Region. They won six consecutive region crowns from 2003 to 2008 but have only won two playoff games the last two years, despite having arguably one of the most talented teams in Southern Nevada.
Additionally, longtime coach Chris Faircloth stepped down in the spring, giving opposing schools — especially Canyon Springs High and Desert Pines High in Las Vegas’ Northeast Division — reasons to be optimistic.
Thurman, whose 15-year tenure as a Wildcats’ assistant includes coaching on the school’s state championship teams in 2001, 2005 and 2006, doesn’t plan on changing much. That includes producing winning teams.
“I could care less (about what others think). It doesn’t bother me,” Thurman said. “We aren’t changing what we do. We are going to lift weights, we are going to run the ball, protect the ball and play solid defense. If someone beats us, so be it.
“I tell the kids that players change, coaches change, but the expectations (at Las Vegas High) don’t,” Thurman added.