Youth leader

WholeHogSports – Henley a natural leader

Posted: Sunday January 9 2022

Ashley Henley has seen her son Kaden grow up in almost every aspect of her life.

Ashley, who is also Shiloh Christian’s linebacker coach, saw her son continue to take shape as a football player in 2021.

Kaden was the Saints’ team manager for tackles for the third year in a row, scoring 150 takedowns. He was a disruption in the backfield, posting 26.0 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks and 12 quarterbacks. He also recorded two interceptions, three breakage passes, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown en route to Shiloh Christian’s third consecutive appearance in a Class 4A State Championship game.

For his efforts, Henley is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s defensive player of the year from the Arkansas Preps.

“He was more physical from the point of view [that] when he was playing there was just a different level of confidence, if that makes sense, ”Ashley said. “I’m sure a lot of it comes from playing so many snaps at this level.

“I’m just proud of the fact that he’s just come out and proven himself time and time again, and it’s been fun for me to sit down and watch.”

Although he played both full-back and tight end for the Saints, Henley was no stranger to defensive success. Over the past three seasons, he’s had 375 tackles in 40 games. He also had 54.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks and 7 interceptions, according to MaxPreps.

The Saints were 41-4 over the past three seasons with Kaden in tow, posting 14-1 in 2019 and 2020 with a state title in 2020. They went 13-2 in 2021, closing the year with another appearance in a title match, losing 42-14 to Joe T. Robinson in the championship match.

Ashley and Shiloh Christian Coach Jeff Conaway said Kaden has improved the most as a leader this season, although it wasn’t something completely new to him.

“In sophomore when he started leading vocally, I felt like this would definitely be something that was going to give him an edge,” said Conaway. “The sophomores who are willing to lead are sometimes scarce, so you matched the intangibles of his size and size and abilities in the field with the ability to lead as well, and we knew there was. would have a special. developed football player.

One of the ways Henley has grown as a leader this season has been to host a Discipleship Group of six sophomore teammates. The teammates met every Sunday to discuss and grow their faith.

“The most important thing is that it just built relationships,” said Henley. “The relationships that I have with the people of my disciple group, it is a relationship greater than the one I would have had in general. [with them] …. So these are just relationships that I wouldn’t have built in the first place. “

Conaway added, “I think leadership is something that lasts. It’s leadership that leaves a legacy, and he certainly left a legacy here, not only for what he did on the pitch, but even more for what he does off the pitch.

On December 15, Henley signed a letter of intent to continue his football career at the University of Arkansas, 10 months after making a verbal commitment to the Razorbacks. He graduated early and enrolled in Arkansas for the spring semester.

Henley said his goal was to play for the Razorbacks and once the program made him an offer he knew where he wanted to pursue his football career.

“It’s crazy how that really fell into place for him,” Ashley said. “Arkansas was where he wanted to be long before that happened. Seeing him again, setting goals, being rewarded for his hard work, and having him do that right after where we were. live is even more of a blessing. It’s almost a pipe dream. We’re just blessed, excited for him and happy to be close enough to take the coach’s hat off and enjoy his game. “