By Otis Kirk
SPRINGDALE — Shiloh Christian Class of 2022 linebacker Kaden Henley helped the Saints to a Class 4A state championship in 2020 and now is trying to win the Southwest Elite 7 on 7 Tournament.
Henley, 6-2, 225, was offered by the University of Arkansas on March 10 and only took a few hours to decide to commit as well. On Wednesday, Henley and the Saints lost their first game of the tournament, but then did what the Saints do and won four in a row as pool played continued. Henley talked about how 7 on 7 helps him.
“The biggest thing for 7 on 7 for me is just running the coverage and matching routes,” Henley said. “I’m a defensive guy and a lot of people say it’s an offensive drill and I agree, but it’s just good to get out there with your teammates and match routes. Learning how to play together that’s the biggest deal.”
After losing to Heritage Hall (Okla.) in the opener there was no panic with Henley.
“I mean we didn’t play together as a team,” Henley said. “We have to, especially defensively, match our routes better. They played better than us and we’ve just got to show up better.”
This is the fourth 7 on 7 event for Shiloh Christian. They played one at Ouachita Baptist after a team camp, one at Benton and then won the one at the University of Arkansas.
Henley and the Saints rolled to the state title last season. He is working to get back there this season.
“I want to be the best overall football player I can be,” Henley said. “I want to be as big, fast and smart as possible so all the little things that matter to bring you to the next level and that’s what I have been working on.”
Henley said the Saints have most of the key players back from last season’s 14-1 team, but warned what happened last year was then.
“We’ve got to realize it’s a new year and we can’t go off of last year,” Henley said. “But it’s a new year and teams are coming for us now. We are in as hard a situation as you can be. We won it last year, but we’ve got to push and get better.”
Henley took his official visit to Arkansas on June 25-27. He joins Canton (Ohio) linebacker Mani Powell, 6-2, 225, as a commitment at linebacker with Duncanville (Texas) standout Jordan Crook, 6-0, 225, looking to possibly join the class soon.