ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) – If you called him the most successful coach in New Mexico sports history, it would be hard to argue.
Wednesday, Artesia High football coach Cooper Henderson announced that he’s stepping down on Wednesday.
“It’s a hard shoes to fill,” said Artesia resident Nancy Holder.
The small football-crazed city of Artesia was shocked by the news that their longtime head football coach is resigning, some calling it the end of an era.
“He’s brought us a lot of championships and he will be missed a lot from a lot of people here in Artesia,” said Artesia resident Stella Chavez.
Henderson says he feels like he’s leaving the football program in great shape and the timing is right.
“I will miss it tremendously but I also think there comes a time for change and I think this is the right time,” Henderson said.
Henderson played quarterback and wide receiver for the bulldogs back in early the 70s. Following in his father’s footsteps, who coached Artesia High football for 13 years, Henderson became the head coach in 1989.
During his 27 years as head football coach, Henderson has led the bulldogs to 14 of their 29 state championships.
His most recent honor might be his greatest accomplishment. He was awarded the National Coach of the Year in 2015.
“Long range of things that you really enjoy the most out of coaching or teaching is when young people care enough to check back, call you, come by, that you made a difference in their life a little bit,” said Henderson.
For all the Artesia fans, Henderson promises the team is in good hands.
“I really do have tons of confidence in our coaching staff. Quite a few of them I’ve coached and come back to work with me and many of them have worked with me for quite a few years, so I’m really excited about the job their doing and what they will be able to continue to do in the program,” he said.
Henderson will remain as athletic director for the school district.