But the pride of Huron College is a slender, soft-spoken boy from the little town of Hayti, who wears glasses, weighs only 175 pounds and looks more like the assistant librarian than a Little All-America halfback. His name is Garney Henley, and he is leading the nation in scoring with 141 points. The two touchdowns he scored against General Beadle on Saturday gave him a four-year career total of 394 points. This broke the national record of 384 set by Lincoln (Mo.) University's Leo Lewis two years ago.
Henley doesn't say much; he does everything. He was all-conference in basketball and won five first places—100, 220, high and low hurdles, broad jump—in the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference track meet last spring. He ran a 9.7 heat in the nationals but failed to make the finals. Football, however, is his sport. His speed, poise, remarkable quickness, good hands and unusual jumping ability (at 5 feet 11 inches, he was an all-state basketball center in high school) make him a great runner and a truly outstanding pass receiver. At Huron, however, they will tell you he is even better on defense.
He scored 91 points as a freshman, 96 as a sophomore (including five touchdowns in six carries against Dakota Wesleyan) and 66 last year when he was unable to play on offense in five games because of a hairline fracture of the ankle. Yet never has Huron fed Henley the ball with the idea that he might set records. He has carried only 79 times this season, and on his biggest day of the year, when he scored five touchdowns against Sioux Falls, he ran only seven times from scrimmage.
Good football teams seldom just happen, and Huron hadn't won a South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference Championship since 1934. Then in 1954 Jim Long and Gil Peterson took over. Long, a quiet, intense, good-looking man of 32, graduated from South Dakota State in 1951 and after two years of high school coaching became an assistant—or rather, the assistant—at Huron. The next year he was made head football coach.
Peterson isn't even on the faculty. A mountain of a man who played tackle for Omaha University and later had a good shot at a job with the San Francisco 49ers until an ankle injury stopped him, he was working around Huron as a salesman and inspector of grain elevators for an agricultural insurance company when Long appealed to him for help. So now Peterson holds down two jobs ("full-time assistant coach with half-time pay," Long says) and still spends his time away from the practice field climbing up and down grain elevators. "There's a good view from up there," he says, "and it's not a bad spot to look around for football players." Don Bartlett, who coaches basketball, helps with the football scouting. And that is the coaching staff at Huron College.
ALL WORK AND NO PAY
Huron gives no full athletic scholarships. For some students it does pay the tuition of $400 a year, but it takes an exceptional boy to qualify for one of these. "They just about have to be able to help us in all three sports [football, basketball and baseball]," says Long. Most football players are on partial scholarships, some get by without any. There is no free room and board, and laundry money is out of the question. But Long and Peterson find for their athletes jobs among the merchants downtown or around the school, and the people of Huron have discovered that these tough, friendly kids from the farms of the tough, friendly pioneer country are among the best baby sitters in the world.
At first the coaches went out into the state and down into Nebraska, extolling the virtues of a Huron education. They showed the boys the town's big, beautiful, new basketball arena, which seats 7,000 and is the largest in South Dakota. They also showed them the new girls' dormitory, and explained that the boys, too, would have one in a few more years (construction begins in 1960) and that a new library would follow soon after. They told how the little Presbyterian college had grown from four students in 1883, when it was located on Rattlesnake Hill, a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, to 140 students in 1951, to 395 now, and of its eventual goal of 800. And pretty soon the athletes began to show up.
After that the job was easier. Long is a good coach and so is Peterson, and you have only to watch their teams in action to tell. When they came to Huron, every team in the conference was running from the split-T. So Long put in an unbalanced line and began to use flankers and the slot offense. He now has added other variations, including a pro-type attack which sometimes finds two backs deep, a flanker and Henley running from a split end.
They impressed their boys, over and over again, with the necessity of wanting to be better than anyone else. They dressed them all in blue blazers and gray flannel slacks for trips and built up their pride. And then the victories began to come and football became a tradition at Huron. "Now," says Long, "none of these kids want to leave here knowing that he is the one who let down. The spirit is wonderful."