CARLSBAD – The Army and Navy Academy has brought in Frank Henry to take over head coaching duties for the Warrior football program, an opportunity that Henry just had to jump for after coaching against them for a decade or more.
“I had the opportunity to coach against them and see their kids play over the last 10 to 12 years and I always appreciated what they were trying to instill in those guys,” Henry said,
He’s been a head coach for about 8 of those 10 to 12 years, he said, but added that one of the new challenges he’s encountered at the academy is the fact that it’s a boarding school with kids coming from different countries and out of state and having it restrict the time they have for practice at the beginning of the season.
By the time practices ensue with a full squad Aug. 24, they will be two weeks behind other schools in the Pacific League.
“We have about 21 varsity players returning, which is pretty good,” Henry said. “The guys I’ve met are great; those guys are led by (QB) Joseph Naotola.”
Last year the team was 4 and 6; this year, Henry said the team is striving for a 6 and 7 season and to get into the CIF playoffs.
Aside from making a playoff run, Henry’s responsibilities as a head coach are to instill the sense of organization and goal-setting for the kids and to teach them the basic skills of football — what it takes to become successful as a player and as a person, he said.
Another goal for the team this year is to establish a sense of toughness.
“A mental and physical toughness as a football team — to really have our kids buy into our new system of football,” Henry said.
Part of that new system is to pass more this season, a product of Henry’s background as a wide receiver at the University of Utah.
Henry, a San Diego resident, also played football at Patrick Henry High School and at San Diego City College.
“Being an offensive-type player I like to throw the ball more,” he said. The Warriors were a very good offensive running team last year, Henry said, running for over 1,700-yards, but added that their attacks will be more balanced this year.
But don’t let his offensive-mindedness underscore his toughness. “I really place a high emphasis on discipline and conditioning,” he said.
“Some defensive-oriented coaches may think that I wouldn’t have the intensity that a defensive player would have, but that’s not true,” he said. “Offensive players and wide receivers are known as ‘pretty boys’ but that’s not the way I coach.”
Peter Hawken is the new defensive coordinator and Henry will be calling the offense. “I love communicating with the kids; they keep me young,” he said. “Even though I’m a discipline coach, I like to do it in a way that’s respectful, and that the kids get to the point where they want to be disciplined because it’s the right thing to do. They want to be committed, not because I’m making them do it, but because it’s the right thing for them to do.”
The Warrior’s football season kicks off Sept. 9 against Foothill.