By Steve Svetovich
He is a man who made a huge impact on every student athlete who crossed his path.
Legendary retired Dunmore football coach Jack Henzes was fittingly honored with a statue at Gatto Field at Dunmore’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 16.
Coach Henzes was honored during a pre-game ceremony dedicating the statue of him prior to the Dunmore contest against Riverside. The Bucks defeated the Vikings, 40-22, in the contest. Dunmore’s Danny Pigga scored three second half touchdowns in the win. Pigga, a junior, rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on five carries and added four receptions for 96 yards and two more scores.
“We wanted to give the crowd a good show,” Pigga said. “Coach Henzes stayed for the game and we wanted to give him a show as well.”
Coach Henzes, 86, had a career record of 444-164-8 after 52 seasons at both Dunmore High School and Wyoming Area High School. A total of 413 of the wins came at Dunmore.
He retired with the second most wins among Pennsylvania high school football coaches. He is now third on the list.
The base of the Henzes statue reads: “Jack Henzes, Dunmore High School Educator-Coach-Mentor-Friend 1970-2019. 413 wins 155 losses 8 ties. Once a Buck, Always a Buck.”
During the pre-game ceremony honoring Henzes, current Dunmore players read words submitted by past Bucks players. The past players submitted words that best described coach Henzes. Those words included, “perseverance, character, integrity, passionate, selfless.”
Henzes closely listened to all the words.
Former Denver Broncos head football coach and long time NFL defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who played for and coached under Henzes, was in attendance and spoke at the ceremony. “I was happy I could make it and it’s a great honor for Coach,” said Fangio. “It’s a remembrance for everyone who knew him and, moving forward, everyone can ask and learn about him and instill some of his values.
“He impacted so many lives, not just football players but every student who went to Dunmore High School.”
When reached by The Dunmorean, Fangio said, “It’s a statue to honor the great work and dedication Coach Henzes had for the football program and every student in the high school. It’s a landmark for future generations of Dunmore High School students to ask and learn about his greatness and to inspire them during their days at Dunmore High School and into their adulthood.”
John Marichak, superintendent of the Dunmore School District and former Scranton High School football coach, said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes was always gracious with his time and knowledge. He helped me so much as a young coach, both in ways that had to do with X’s and O’s and things that pertained to character. He was the ultimate professional as my role changed to that of administrator.
“The man did things the right way.”
Dunmore head football coach Kevin McHale, who played for and was an assistant under Henzes, said to The Dunmorean, “It is a great tribute to Coach Henzes and so well deserved. Along with winning many football games, he went above and beyond in setting a great example for student athletes and teaching life lessons to many generations. Many of his student athletes have passed these lessons down to their children and grandchildren.”
Former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes is a true gentleman, loving father, and extraordinary coach. He not only taught football, but taught his players respect and life lessons.
“Coach Henzes also grows a great garden.”
Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi, who played football two years for Henzes, told The Dunmorean, “He was a great guy. I spoke with him numerous times over the years. I ran into him many times at the Farmer’s Market while he was going for his walk. He has a true people’s persona.”
Dunmore senior star tailback Nico Ruggiero said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes is a legend in Dunmore. Everyone knows what he has done. He was an amazing coach for all of the teams he coached in Dunmore. And he definitely deserves the statue.”
Dunmore assistant coach Michael Perry, who played for Henzes, said, “He was more than a coach. He was a father figure and great role model.”
Perry said Coach Henzes made sure to look at each player’s report card to make sure every student athlete was passing.
Coach Henzes, with tears in his eyes during the ceremony, said, “This is a great honor. I want to thank our Board of Education, the players and coaches who did a great job for us.
“And I love the people of Dunmore. They’ve been great to me. I love them so much.
“Once a Buck, always a Buck.”