Henning used football to make friends, earn ticket to college

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 9, 2000

Les Henning used sports as a way of getting to know his schoolmates and of attending college.

That was not an easy thing to do for the son of an oilfield worker who changed schools three times by his senior year.

&uot;That was bad,&uot; Henning said. &uot;Every time a new boy moves into a school, somebody wants to whoop him.&uot;

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Henning attended Natchez schools up until the eight grade before moving to Minden, La. The family then moved to Texas before heading back to Natchez.

&uot;The last time we moved back. we couldn’t find a place to live in Natchez so we lived in Washington and&160;I went to school out there,&uot; he said.

Henning was a running back/linebacker at Washington High in 1956 and ’57. He also punted for coach Lesley Smith.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Henning scored 12 touchdowns as a junior for the 6-4 and 15 his senior year at Washington in a 7-3 season.

&uot;We did pretty good,&uot; Henning said. &uot;We didn’t have any big linemen, but we had a winning season each year. We never could beat Catholic High with Joe Garrity, Sammy Eidt and that bunch.&uot;

Henning played all sports at Washington, but football was always his favorite.

&uot;That was until I got to college and started playing a little golf,&uot;&160;he said.

Henning spent a year at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and played football well enough to earn induction into their sports hall of fame last year.

Henning, who studied kinesiology and anatomy, and while also playing football at Co-Lin, then transferred to Trinity University, but was not happy there and dropped out.

Horace McCool was the coach at Delta State at that time and coached against Henning at Northeast Junior College.

&uot;He found out I had dropped out and got in touch with me,&uot; Henning said.

Henning led Delta State in rushing and pass receiving in 1961, earning All-American honors.

Henning rushed for 502 yards in eight games, missing his final two games after breaking a bone in his knee.

&uot;I was still able to punt,&uot; he said.

After graduating from Delta State, Henning went into coaching, spending one year at Marks High and a year-and-a-half at Greenwood High.

He then returned to Natchez and began working at International Paper.

Henning and his wife Patricia left Natchez in the mid-1960s for Patricia’s home town of Brookhaven.

Henning became s mechanic at his father-in-laws Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. From there he went to work offshore for Chevron.

Henning, 62, and his wife reside in Brookhaven. They have three kids; Kathy Crain, Paul and Jeff and six grandchildren, five of which are girls, ranging in age from 2-13.

Henning said he cannot pick out one particular highlight from his outstanding career.

&uot;Football players are like one big family,&uot; he said. &uot;I loved the practices and the games. It was all fun.&uot;