West Xtra: Junior running back a leader for unbeaten Quips


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At least three days during a school week Dravon Henry wakes up at 4:45 a.m.

After getting ready for his day, Henry makes a five-minute trip by foot up the street to Aliquippa High School and meets up with a few of his teammates well before school starts.

"We meet at the gym and start our practice," said Henry, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior running back and safety on the Quips football team. "Then we go to the weight room to lift."

The rest of Henry's day consists of a regular class schedule followed by football practice.

"But if some of us aren't satisfied with how we did at practice, we head back to the weight room and work out again," he said. "Then it's back home for homework."

The biggest reason behind Henry's workout regimen and why he lives by a "no days off" mentality goes back to Aliquippa's season-ending loss to Tyrone last year in the PIAA Class AA semifinals.

"I go Monday through Sunday, no matter if it's working out, running, lifting or studying," Henry said. "Ever since the day after I walked off that field after playing Tyrone, that's the way it's been for me."

So far this season, Henry's extra efforts are paying off for the Quips.

Last week during Aliquippa's 49-3 victory against Freedom Area, Henry rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns to help the Quips (6-0, 4-0) remain the Post-Gazette's top-ranked Class AA team.

Aliquippa returns to Midwestern Athletic Conference action when it travels to Ellwood City at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"We're playing well right now," Henry said. "We still have a lot of work to do to get better but we're playing together as a team. We have a lot of leadership, and that has been a big part of this season."

Through six games, Henry has gained 621 yards and a team-leading 12 touchdowns on just 52 carries.

"He just has a presence about him," long-time Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. "He also happens to play with a lot of good players. I don't know if he stands out from the other guys other than he has a quiet confidence, and that's very noticeable."

Henry rushed for 820 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman and followed up by running for 1,365 yards and 21 touchdowns during his sophomore campaign.

"He has just grown up," Zmijanac said. "He's started since his freshman year and since then he's matured like all kids do. He's grown up with experience, and that came with some success and some failure."

Besides providing a key scoring option on offense, Henry has been a defensive standout, too. Last season, he led Aliquippa's defensive unit with nine interceptions.

"Whatever my team asks me to do, I do it," Henry said. "I'll do whatever for my team. I like to have the ball in my hands, but at the same time I prefer playing defense.

"I like playing the safety position because I can roam the field. I want to keep following in the footsteps of my cousin, Darrelle Revis, who also played here."

Revis, who went on to star at Pitt as an All-American before becoming an All-Pro cornerback in the NFL for the New York Jets, isn't the only relative of Henry who has played at Aliquippa. Besides his father, Roland Henry, the younger Henry is a cousin of Charles Fisher and Dionte Henry as well as a nephew of Arno Askew.

"Following those guys means a lot to me," Henry said. "It means a lot to play for Aliquippa. This is a town that has gone through a lot of hard times and football means so much to so many people. The whole community comes to our games.

"This is the only place I'd want to play football."

Henry also plays basketball and runs track at Aliquippa. Last spring, Henry helped the Quips' 400-relay team win a gold medal at the WPIAL championships.

Henry also has received a lot of interest from close to a dozen Division I football programs, including Cincinnati, Connecticut, Indiana, Kent State, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers, West Virginia and, of course, Pitt.

"Dravon works extremely hard," Zmijanac said. "He works out before school and after practice, and he works hard in the classroom. He does all the right things on the street and on the field. Dravon's a great player and a great kid.

"I'm just glad he plays for us."



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