W. Potomac's Henderson tries to put difficult 2009 football season behind him

By James Wagner
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 2:47 PM

West Potomac opens its football season Thursday against Mount Vernon, and for Coach Eric Henderson, just being on the sideline after a trying year will be no small accomplishment.

Henderson stepped down last fall in the wake of a tumultuous 2-8 season, one that landed the Wolverines in last place in the tough Patriot District and Henderson in surgery to remove kidney stones.

The pain got so bad at times that, sometimes, the only comfortable way for Henderson to watch practice was lying on his side on the sideline. Henderson also teaches government and history at the school and, at one point, his wife also fell ill, leaving the father of two sons (both of whom go to West Potomac and play football) with much to juggle.

The disappointing campaign ended a run of three straight winning seasons for the Wolverines, and when it was over Henderson resigned.

"I just didn't feel like we were heading in the direction we needed to go," Henderson said. "People had high expectations for us as well that I felt like that needed to be done."

His sons, however, told him the players and their parents wanted him to stay,

which he said was "really, really gratifying."

So Henderson asked for his job back. A little over a week later, his request was granted and Thursday he'll open his seventh season as Wolverines coach.

"After some more consideration, he decided that he didn't want to walk away," said Aaron Helmick, the school's athletic director.

His return came with a few conditions, which the school granted.

They worked with his teaching schedule of five classes to shift a free period around, and his staff now numbers six assistants, more than years past.

His team is young, with nearly two dozens seniors gone from last year's team. Senior quarterback Nik Dimitrijevic leads a potentially explosive spread offense, and has speedy targets in wide receivers Daryl Copeland and Jalen Dawson. Senior Dan Carriker, a 6-foot-2, 305-pound mountain on offensive line who is drawing recruiting interest, is a powerful blocker.

"I'm happy to be back," said Henderson, who has compiled a 27-35 record at the school. "I think it's all come to good spot and I'm at a good place."

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