It took 36 years for the passing touchdowns record to fall at Morristown East, but in the final game of the 2019 season, Hurricanes quarterback Cole Henson surpassed it. Henson led the Hurricanes in a second-half surge that had them knocking on the door in the Class 5A playoffs and set a new school mark in touchdown passes as he did it. The junior quarterback was honored Thursday night as he was named the Citizen Tribune All-Lakeway Area Football Offensive Player of the Year.
Current ETSU head coach Randy Sanders, owner of two NCAA Division I national championship rings with Tennessee and Florida State as a collegiate coach, set the touchdown passes mark at Morristown East from 1980-1983, tossing 32 in his career. And there the record stood until Henson, with three touchdown passes against David Crockett in the final game of the regular season, claimed it as his own.
Henson set the new record with 34 career passing touchdowns and still has a year to play. He is in striking distance of every passing record in the Hurricanes’ book, currently held by Sanders and Dylan Noe, who played from 2014-2016.
A complete season in 2020 could see his name etched atop the passing yardage, total offensive yardage, pass attempts and pass completions records.
But his most important accomplishment this year was helping keep his team focused and together after a disastrous 0-6 start. In four of those losses, the Hurricanes fell by a single score.
“Through the first four games, we lost by like three points and could have won all of them,” Henson said. “But I feel that we leaders made sure that the team stayed up and that we could win every game if we just kept on competing.”
A two-year starter coming into this season, Henson wanted to take that next step with his quarterbacking ability. He used the offseason to work with receivers on routes and timing, while also doing the work in the weight room every day to improve his strength.
It paid off for Henson, as he finished the season with 2,102 total yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for 513 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 1,589 yards and 15 touchdowns, setting the new career mark.
“It’s impressive,” Morristown East coach Caleb Slover said. “Doing it in three years is something. But I think it’s the progress he (Henson) has made over the last three years and continued to grow as a quarterback, I think that things are looking up for him. He’s going to have the expectations of a good season next year.”
Being a leader, Henson has made an impression on his teammates, so the successful season and TD pass record not only meant a lot to him, it meant a lot to his brothers in arms as well.
“It warmed my heart so much,” C.J. Livesay said. “He (Henson) deserves everything. That kid is one of the greatest kids I have ever met. He’s a nice fella, he’s always there and he’s a brother. He busted his tail in the weight room, watching film and on the field. You can find a guy with more height and can throw it deeper, but you won’t be able to find a guy who puts in as much time as he does and understands the game like he does.”
Henson is 900 yards shy of Sanders’ passing yardage record of 4,220, 1100 yards behind Sanders’ total yards record and is 80 completions behind Noe’s record of 312.
While Morristown East does lose some key players from this year’s team, Henson will still be under center in 2020. East will enter that campaign riding their four-game winning streak to end this past season.
“My expectations for next year are that we are the best in the conference,” Henson said. “Because I know what this team can do, and I know what all we can accomplish if we don’t do the silly stuff and keep our head on straight.