Road to Recovery: Bucks’ Coach Jack Henzes Looks to Return

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Photo Credit: Rich Banick Photography

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.

Jack HenzesHenzes 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.

henzesHis 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.

bucksIn 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.”

Bucks Begin Season Without Henzes

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Photo Credit: Rich Banick Photography

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School began this season with Jack Henzes sidelined with a heart ailment, but is moving forward with hopes of having the legendary coach back.

Kevin McHale, Dunmore’s defensive coordinator, is the team’s interim head coach during Henzes’ absence.

Dunmore began this season with a 31-0 loss to Scranton Prep on Friday, August 24, but bounced back quickly with a 33-0 win over Mid Valley on Friday, August 31.

Charles Valvano recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and just 14 seconds later quarterback Steve Borgia connected with Greg McDade for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick attempt was blocked.

Borgia had 75 yards passing for two touchdowns and 59 yards rushing for a touchdown in the win. Sophomore Peyton Badyrka kicked the extra point.

scheduleBorgia scored on a one-yard plunge with 8:03 left in the second quarter.

A 31-yard scramble by Borgia set up a four-yard touchdown pass to Christian Buckley to cap a 25-second drive right before the half.

Badyrka booted the extra point and Dunmore had a commanding 20-0 lead at the half.

After running back Billy Donvito left the game with a shoulder injury, Ralph Tolley stepped in and broke numerous tackles for a 31-yard touchdown run to open the second half. Badyrka hit on the extra point kick with 9:56 left in the third quarter.

The Dunmore offensive line opened up a hole for Kyle Harrity who rambled into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run to seal the win with 4:58 left in the contest. The extra point kick attempt failed.

The tight Dunmore defense held the Spartans to eight rushing yards and only four first downs.

Buckley rushed for 77 yards on nine carries.

“The effort was there the first game,” said coach McHale, “but there was no result. We corrected our mistakes and came back strong against Mid Valley. We will continue to get better each day.”

Henzes, when he comes back, will be in his 52nd year of coaching. He has 435 career wins, just 20 behind all-time state leader George Curry. Curry coached mostly at Berwick, but also Lake Lehman.

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Dunmore High School coaches for the 2018 season include, from left: Assistant Coach Mike DeSando, Assistant Coach Jeff Mills, Assistant Coach Kevin McHale and Assistant Coach Mike Barrett. (Photo Credit: Rich Banick Photography)

Besides coach McHale, other assistants at Dunmore are Jeff Mills, Michael DeSando, Mike Barrett, Miller Holmes, Justin Mitchell and Michael Perry.

Key players on Dunmore this season include senior tight end-middle linebacker George Mesko, senior defensive end-fullback Kyle Harrity, senior defensive end-tight end Tyler Overheit, senior fullback-linebacker Billy Donvito, senior wide receiver-cornerback Greg McDade,senior offensive and defensive lineman Jake Sawka, junior quarterback-punter Steve Borgia, sophomore running back-defensive back Christian Buckley, junior wide receiver-defensive back Charles Valvano, senior offensive and defensive lineman Louis LaCapra, senior lineman Anthony Santarsiero, senior lineman Anthony Kashner and sophomore kicker Peyton Badyrka.

“Our goal here is to win the league title, district title and go as far as we can in the state playoffs,” said coach McHale.

“We expected to bounce back from the first game loss. We have great senior leadership here.”

Quarterback Borgia was a wide receiver for the Bucks last season. “He was a very good receiver for us,” said McHale. “He was All-League. He is an excellent athlete and a great leader. He has some nice receivers to throw to here.”

The coaching staff has high hopes for sophomore back Buckley.

“He rushed for 500 yards and three touchdowns in limited action as a freshman last year. He was out for a few games with an injury.

“He worked very hard in the off season to come back strong. He really looks good so far. We expect big things from him this year.”

Coach McHale said he expects the team defense to continue to improve. “With each game, we will continue to work hard to get better. And we will.”

henzesMcHale said the team is working hard with Henzes out, but looks forward to having the iconic head coach back. “The team misses coach Henzes. He is a great example for all of our guys. We are hoping he comes back this season. But it is one day at a time for him as he recuperates.

“We are doing our best to fill the void and keep the intensity level up. We are trying to keep things simple.”

Dunmore is the defending District 2 Class 2A champion and has claim to the last four district titles.

Dunmore tied a school record with 14 wins advancing to the PIAA Class 2A semifinal last year. Henzes led Dunmore to 29 straight regular season wins prior to the opening night loss this year to Prep.

Henzes, who is currently recovering from heart valve surgery, has been head football coach at Dunmore since 1971 after spending four years as head coach at Wyoming Area (1966-1969). He began his coaching career as an assistant at Blakely High School under his late dad, Papa Bear Henzes.

His career coaching record is 435-160-8.

Holy Cross eliminates Dunmore in district playoff battle

By Steve Svetovich

It was a hard fought battle between two highly energized Dunmore borough teams.

This time, Holy Cross came out on top.

Sophomore Pat Galvin and senior Billy Trainor combined for 31 points in the Holy Cross Crusaders win over Dunmore, 46-39, in the District 2 Class AA quarterfinal Friday, Feb. 19, at the Lackawanna College Student Union.

The Holy Cross (15-8 at press time) win eliminated the No. 3 seed Dunmore Bucks (19-7) from the district playoffs.

The 5-foot-8 Galvin led the No. 6 Crusaders with six rebounds in the win. Trainor had four assists.

Dunmore, coached by Tony Lacertoso, didn’t go down easy. The Bucks overcame a seven-point deficit and tied the score early in the fourth quarter.

However, Holy Cross veteran coach Al Callejas called a timeout. It worked.

The sharp shooting Trainor hit a couple jump shots on two straight possessions. The Crusaders did not look back.

This marked the fourth contest this season between the intra borough teams. Both teams won twice, but the Crusaders took home the biggest win.

Holy Cross started off quick in the contest with three straight 3-pointers. Trainor hit two and Galvin one as the Crusaders built a quick 9-2 lead.

Holy Cross led at the half, 21-15.

Dunmore rallied in the third quarter when 6-foot-7 center Jonathon Williams picked up his game. He had four of his eight points and hauled down five rebounds in the quarter.

A clutch basket by Dunmore’s Nick Maldonato to open the fourth quarter tied the game at 28-28. Maldonato scored six points in the game.

Trainor then hit a jumper to put the Crusaders up, 30-28. Dunmore’s Matt Murphy came back and hit a 3-pointer to give the Bucks a 31-30 lead with 6:30 left in the contest. That was to be Dunmore’s only lead.

Trainor came back and hit another clutch jumper. Malachi Phillips hit on two baskets. Then Baily Simrell hit on a hoop. That capped the 8-1 Holy Cross burst to give the Crusaders a 38-32 lead with 3:08 left in the game.

Still, the stingy Bucks would not give up.

Colin Holmes, who scored seven points, and Williams both hit buckets to pull the Bucks to within 38-36 with 1:14 left in the game.

The Crusaders responded as Philips scored on a reverse layup and Galvin and Trainor each hit on free throws.

A Noah O’Malley 3-pointer came a little too late for Dunmore as Holy Cross held on for the 46-39 win.

Holy Cross defeated Mountain View, 62-46, in first round playoff action Wednesday, February 17.

Trainor led the Crusaders with 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the opening round win. Simrell added 14 points. Phillips scored 12.