By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
Marion “Chief” Henley, died at his retirement home in Cocoa Beach, Fla., last week at the age of 79.
Henley was the head football coach at Picayune’s Carver High, which was the black high school in the city, in the 1960’s.
His teams won 64 straight football games in the 1960s, which was a record that stood until 2007 when South Panola exceeded that streak. Henley still holds the record for consecutive games won by a single high school coach because two coaches, Rickey Woods and Lance Pogue, were involved in the South Panola win streak.
Henley was inducted into the Mississipπpi Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Henley’s Carver teams won 112 games while losing only six for a remarkable winning percentage of .949.
At the time of his Hall of Fame induction, Henley described his coaching style: “I was the type of coach that let the players dictate what offense and defense we would run that year. If we didn’t have the personnel to run the split-T, we weren’t going to run the split-T. I tried to always mold my coaching to fit my players.”
In a 2007 inteview, as the streak was about to be broken, Henley said “I’m not upset about it, I respect what they have been able to do. I was just glad I could be a part of something that special, and to be able to help those young men make a difference. . . .our record has stood for a long, long time and I don’t think anything can take away from what we achieved.”
Carver left Picayune in 1969 when Carver and all-white Picayune High consolidated. Henley, who had the best coaching record in Mississippi, was assigned to be an assistant coach. Henley coached for 23 more years in Baltimore before his retirement.
Henley is survived by his wife of 49 years, Sheila Salvant Henley as well as five children and a host pf grand children and great-granchildren. Marion’s memorial service and celebration of his life will take place tonight in Baltimore.
A memorial service is scheduled to be held in Picayune at a future date.