Catalina grad

Virgil Henderson has been an assistant football coach at seven different schools over the last 13 years.

Now he's ready to call Rincon/University home.

"I've always been waiting for this opportunity, and with all this experience I'm ready to take it on," he said. "I'm excited; it's a blessing."

Henderson, 44, was appointed the Rangers head football coach last month, filling the vacancy left by Nate Gahn, who accepted the offensive coordinator position at Pima College.

"It was bittersweet to see Nate go because he improved the program every year,and we're hoping Virgil can keep it going," Rincon athletic director Hank Matz said. "We think he has the tools to do it. We're very impressed with, not just his knowledge of football, but the way he related to kids"

Gahn coached the Rangers for the last four seasons and led the team to a 6-4 finish this year, its best since 2006, which was the last time it went to the state playoffs.

Henderson, a Catalina High grad who originally applied for the Palo Verde opening, has spent the last three years as an assistant at Salpointe Catholic under Dennis Bene. The Rangers will host the Lancers on Oct. 11.

By being appointed, Henderson will have to re-apply for the job after next season and go through the full hiring process. The Star recently sat down with the first-time varsity head coach to ask him a few questions:

How much thinking did it take to accept the Rincon job?

A: "It took a little bit because leaving from Salpointe, one of the top high schools in the state, you have to think about that. It was hard because I love the kids over there and the coach, and the facilities over there are great. But at the end, I had to think about what I really wanted and what is my goal and my dream. That was to be a head coach."

What are your expectations with the Rangers?

A: "Hopefully we can sneak in there and get in the state playoffs. It's been a while since Rincon has been there. I know it's a challenge for me, but I think with the kids and my coaching staff we could do that. The second half of our schedule is tough with the Division II, there's a lot of powerhouses in there, but anything can happen on a Friday night as long as we're prepared."

What's it going to be like playing at Salpointe, where you most recently coached?

A: "That's going to be a blast. To go back there or to see them come to our place, that's going to be exciting. They're probably going to be one of the top teams in the state and it's something that I look forward to because it's something that tells me as a coach where I'm at and what I need to improve more."