By Steve Svetovich
He has molded over a thousand high school football players into men in a little over a half century of coaching football.
Recovering from heart valve surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City last month, Dunmore legendary football coach Jack Henzes, entering his 52nd season as a head coach, has no timetable for a return.
But the plan is to most definitely come back.
He is not retiring by any means.
Henzes, 82, has a 435-160-8, career coaching record at Wyoming Area (1966-1969) and Dunmore (1971-present).
He is second in the state in career wins to the late George Curry’s 455 total accumulated at Lake Lehman and Berwick.
Prior to Dunmore’s opening night 31-0 loss to Scranton Prep this season, Henzes led the Bucks to 29 regular season wins in a row. Dunmore is the defending District 2 Class 2A champion. Henzes has led Dunmore to four straight district titles.
Dunmore tied a school record with 14 wins last season advancing to the PIAA Class 2A semifinals.
Henzes graduated from Blakely High School in 1954. He was a star football and baseball player at his alma mater.
He graduated from George Washington University in 1958 with a B.S. in Education.
The coaching icon has taught driver’s education for the past 55 years and plans on continuing when his health permits.
He is married to the former Roseann Anastasio.
The couple has five adult children: Kim, Jack, Brandy, Melissa and Wendy.
Henzes has led Dunmore to 10 district titles, the first coming in 1995 with a win over his former team, Wyoming Area.
He led Dunmore to its first Eastern Conference Class A title in 1985. Dunmore finished 13-0, becoming the first Big 11 team with 13 wins.
His biggest coaching thrill?
“Seeing all my players move on and be a success in life. Watching my players go out and doing the things necessary in life to become good men. Winning is secondary to watching them become great human beings in life.”
Coach Henzes said he is feeling better each day and the recuperation process is slow.
“The plan is to get back to coaching and the classroom. I will be back. That is the plan.
“I want to do this as long as God allows.”
His future goals are simple. “Just to make sure to teach our players to become good young men and to educate these young students. Again, the winning will come but it is secondary.”
The highly respected Dunmore coach was an assistant under his dad, the late great Papa Bear Henzes, from 1960 through 1965 at Blakely High School.
Henzes, the 16th coach to 400 wins, earned his first head coaching win for Wyoming Area over GAR, 21-6, in 1966. Ironically, he lost his first game as a head coach to Dunmore, 27-13. He led Wyoming Area to a 7-4 record in 1966.
Henzes had a 30-12 coaching record at Wyoming Area before taking the reign at Dunmore in 1971.
His first Dunmore win came over Tunkhannock, 19-7, in 1971. He led the Bucks to a 7-3 record that year.
Henzes led Dunmore to the first of three straight conference titles in 1973 before losing in the Eastern Conference final, 15-6, to Mount Carmel.
He led Dunmore to its third straight Big 11 title in 1975. Dunmore was 10-1 in the conference.
Dunmore won its fourth Big 11 title in 1978, losing to GAR, 27-21, in the Eastern Conference title game.
Henzes earned his 100th career win in 1980 with Dunmore’s win over Lackawanna Trail, 19-8.
Henzes led Dunmore to its first Eastern Conference Class A title in 1985 with a perfect 13-0 record.
In 1989, Dunmore finished 13-1. The team’s only loss came at the hands of Curry and his Berwick team, 6-0, in the Eastern Conference final.
Henzes earned his 200th career win in 1993 with Dunmore’s 35-7 win over Abington.
Dunmore finished 7-1, to tie with Scranton Prep for the Big 11 title.
In 1995, Dunmore won its first District 2 Class AA title, defeating Wyoming Area. Henzes fell ill towards the end of the season and was unable to coach from the sidelines for a few games.
In 1999, Dunmore finished 12-1 and earned the District 2 Class AA title before losing to Mount Carmel in the state playoffs.
Henzes earned a milestone 252nd win, 42-6 over Scranton Prep, passing his dad on the all-time list, in 2000.
In 2006, Henzes led Dunmore to the first of three consecutive District 2 Class AA titles. Dunmore set a record with 14 wins, but lost in the state final.
In 2012, coach Henzes led Dunmore to 14 wins and a District 2 title before losing to Clairton in the state final.
Henzes led the Bucks to 14 straight wins and a District 2 Class AA title in 2014 before losing the PIAA final.
Henzes achieved a major milestone Oct. 2, 2015, with his 400th career win, 46-0, over Carbondale Area. He celebrated with his players and grandchildren on the field.
He has led Dunmore to district titles in each of the past four years.
“The plan is for him to return to coaching at Dunmore,” his son Jack, Jr. said. “Right now he is focusing on his recuperation. There are good days and bad days, but the main thing is that he is getting better with each passing day.”
His former players have one standard comment about Henzes:
“He taught me not just football, but about life. He made me into a man.”