Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – There is no position confusion with Andy Henson.
The West Branch senior is a three-year starter at tailback and an all-state linebacker that will play middle linebacker in college at Division II power Minnesota State.
Where Henson will play this fall isn’t up for debate.
The possibilities of where the versatile 6-foot-2, 215-pound Henson could play is an interesting conversation.
“We could put him in the backfield, we could put him at tight end, we could put him at wide out or we could play him at tackle if we wanted to,” long-time West Branch coach Butch Pedersen said. “He doesn’t care he just wants to play.”
Pedersen described Henson, who also handles the punting duties for the Bears, as a throwback.
Asked if Henson is more of a running back or linebacker Pedersen simply called him a football player.
“He’s a guy that says ‘just get me out there, I don’t care where I play’,” Pedersen said. “He is like another quarterback, he understands the game very, very well and the best part about him is he’s willing to do anything that we ask him to do.”
Henson has been a staple for West Branch on both sides of the ball since his sophomore season.
Entering his final prep season Henson has rushed for 2,359 yards and 24 touchdowns, caught 45 passes for 464 yards and a score and made 84.5 tackles including 17 for loss.
That is some versatility.
“It’s made me a better player learning how to play all those spots,” Henson said. “Learning to be a receiving back along with a power back and just getting the ball a lot or playing defense. Everything I’ve learned and seen the past three years has made me the player I am today.”
After getting his feet wet on the varsity level as a freshman Henson jumped into a bigtime role as a sophomore rushing for 893 yards and making 32 tackles as a two-way starter.
That is when Henson first showed his versatile skill set catching 32 passes for 252 yards in a pass-heavy West Branch offense.
“I think for me that first year it was just about learning the blocking schemes some of the younger running backs don’t understand zone or power a whole lot and I didn’t either my freshman year,” Henson said. “Just going through the motions at young of an age all the way to my senior year has really helped a lot.”
Last season Henson made a big jump.
He rushed for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 7 yards per carry and still caught 12 passes for 161 yards.
I think I definitely improved my first step and cutting and just getting bigger,” Henson said “I know I was a pretty good receiving back already but getting bigger and just being able to punish defenders.”
Henson earned third-team Class 1A all-state honors as a junior as a linebacker after making 42.5 tackles including 11 for loss and two sacks.
He also averaged 36.2 yards per punt.
Henson enjoys his contributions on special teams and just as many other two-way West Branch starters before him takes pride in being a guy that rarely comes off the field.
“The coaches try to get me a rest as much as possible but if the coaches need me on the field I’ll be on the field,” Henson said. “I take a lot of pride in it and I’m sure all the other guys do too.”
Henson committed to Minnesota State before the season where the Mavs see him as a future middle linebacker.
This season, a leaner, stronger Henson is seeking his best season yet.
Henson spent that off season running track and working on his body. He added around five pounds of muscle and is up to 215 pounds.
“Last year I was around 210 but it wasn’t really full muscle,” Henson said. “This year I wanted to be a little heavier but just stronger and leaner and faster.”
This year Henson wants to say on the field more and have a bigger impact in every facet of the game while helping West Branch improve on its second-round playoff exit from a year ago.
“Our goal is to win, win it all,” Henson said. “I think we have a good enough skill set on offense and defense to make a good run.”