Some of the Alice Coyote football teams from the 1970s represent the Golden Era of Coyote football, and the man at the helm of the program at the time was Lenard G. Henderson, better known as coach L.G. Henderson.
Between 1974 to 1979, Henderson took an already great Alice High School football program and made it greater. During that time, the Coyotes were 38-33-5. While his overall record here wasn’t extraordinary, his time was highlighted by the Coyotes’ run to the state semifinals in 1979. To date, the 1979 team remains one of only four Alice teams to ever play in the semifinals.
That's why Henderson is the sole member of the 2017 class of the Alice Coyote Athletic Hall of Honor. Henderson is being posthumously inducted into the hall of honor Friday evening. He will be honored during halftime of Friday night's Coyote football game.
Henderson arrived in Alice for the 1974 season. He replaced coach Charlie Williams. The Coyotes were 1-8-1 in Henderson’s first season here, and 3-6-1 a year later. However, in 1976, the Coyotes went 5-5 under Henderson. That season began a run of 26 years in which Alice had a winning season.
In 1977, the Coyotes went 8-4 and went two games into the postseason. At the time, their 26-22 bi-district win against Edinburg was the program’s first playoff win since 1972. They were knocked out of the playoffs after losing to Austin Reagan, 31-13.
The Coyotes were 6-3-1 in 1978, but they returned as one of the best teams in Texas a year later in 1979. Alice went 12-2 that year and reached the state semifinals. Alice avenged the earlier loss to Reagan by reversing the score and winning their regional match-up, 31-13. They then beat San Antonio Wheatley, 29-20, to advance to the semifinals, where they fell to Houston Memorial, 22-8.
Henderson was born in Clarendon, Texas in 1929. He went to college at New Mexico State. His first coaching job was at a junior high in Odessa. He moved his family to Phillips, Texas in the early 1950s and to Artesia in 1955 where he became the backfield coach for the Bulldogs. The Dogs had won their first state championship in 1954 after years of being dominated in the region by Roswell and Carlsbad. After Artesia won their second title in 1957 LG took the job as head coach at Dalhar in 1958. But he came back to Artesia when Coach Reese Smith stepped down in 1960. Fourteen years later Artesia had won five more state championships and Henderson had a record of 109-41-8.
He was always held in high regard in Alice. Henderson was the kind of coach that made an impact on the youth athletes he coach. One of those was former Coyote quarterback and former Alice head coach Chris Soza.
Sosa said that aside from the game, Henderson taught his players things like discipline, leadership and respect… all qualities which could be used later in life.
“Coach Henderson was an excellent role model to all of us as were all of his coaches,” Soza said. “He had high expectations academically as well as athletically. He constantly preached to us the intangibles...discipline, leadership, family, teamwork, respect and hard work. He was a strict disciplinarian and took a no-nonsense approach.”
Following his teaching and coaching career, Henderson and his wife Fidelia Ann retired to Buchanan Dam, Texas, spending his time as volunteer campground hosts for the U.S. Forest Service in the Rocky Mountains, teaching and serving at their church in Llano, Texas, and attending their grandchildren’s sporting events.
L.G. returned to Artesia in 2010, where he was a member of the First United Methodist Church. He is also a member of the New Mexico and Texas Coaches Associations. In February 2012, he was inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.
Henderson, 83, died Sunday, December 30, 2012, in Lubbock, Texas.