Hendryx in final drive vs. LCC: We thought we were going to win
After winning sectional in first year, coach hopes for players to transform bodies
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Less than five minutes into their Class 1A regional game against Lafayette Central Catholic last week, Winamac’s Russell Compton had already intercepted quarterback Clark Barrett twice. He had returned one of them 38 yards for a touchdown.
Winamac led 12-0.
Then Barrett turned his night around, throwing for 494 yards and four touchdowns. Central Catholic led 37-25 at one point in the fourth quarter.
Winamac would score and cut the deficit to five points, and they would get the ball back inside the Knight 25 with under two minutes to go.
But hurt by a holding penalty, that drive stalled out, and Winamac’s season ended with a 37-32 loss and a 7-3 final record.
“We all thought that we were going to win,” Winamac coach John Hendryx said. “To be honest, I don’t think many of us didn’t think that we would. When we completed the ball down to the 10, we thought this is going to happen. And then you look up, and there’s a flag laying there. It was heartbreaking. When there are 80-some passes thrown in the game, and there is one holding call thrown, and it’s in the last minute of the game, you kind of scratch your head. But hey, that stuff happens sometimes.”
Barrett completed passes to five different receivers, none of them seniors. Three different receivers caught touchdowns. Still, the Warriors took the defending state champions down to the final minute.
“We don’t have any regrets,” Hendryx said. “If we had to do it, we’d do it again. We had what we had to match up with their kids. Honestly, if I had any regrets ... we played mainly man to man, but we played zone a couple times, but we didn’t want to because we just thought that would be a nightmare, and it was. We had them like a third-and-20, and we’ve got eight guys in pass defense, and he finds a kid in a seam, and we said we can’t do that anymore.
“I liked what we did. We played pretty well. If we had to change anything, I might have changed our pressure packages up a little bit. But we did what we did to give us a chance to win. We knew we had an athletic mismatch across the board. We just had to hang in there, and I thought for the most part they did pretty well.”
Winamac had 452 yards of offense against Central Catholic – 186 rushing and 266 passing. The 32 points were the most points Winamac has scored in a loss since a 45-33 loss to South Newton in 2007.
“We ran the ball pretty well,” Hendryx said. “We threw the ball pretty well. I liked the balance that we had. They just struggled with some of our sets. I thought Russell threw the ball well, and running backs, all of them, if they weren’t running the ball, they did a great job of blocking for each other. … We really had them guessing as to what was going on.”
Now Hendryx, who left Knox to become the Winamac coach in May, is hoping for a period of “normalcy” in a post-coronavirus world. He also would like to see Winamac’s players transform their bodies as he begins his first full offseason as coach.
“It’s a good class,” Hendryx said of his juniors, most of whom now have two played two years on the varsity. “I told them after the game, ‘I’m glad you guys are coming back, but I don’t want you guys back as you are,’” Hendryx said. “‘You need to get stronger. And with strength will come some speed.’”
Hendryx said it’s a long process, and he even wants the players in the middle school to be involved.
“We need to change ourselves as athletes,” Hendryx said. “So hopefully, we can do that. That doesn’t happen overnight, and that doesn’t happen in a year. That’s a long process. It’s a process that you need to be involved in for two or three years or even longer. We’ll have our middle school kids involved here after Christmas. And so once you get into that and you’re in that for awhile, it makes a big difference with you as an athlete.”