GARLAND, Texas – After seeing Rico Henderson's work ethic during summer workouts, Rockwall-Heath head coach Mickey Moss decided the freshman could help his team this year -- as a defensive back.
After seeing him in a game, it didn't take long for Moss to move Henderson to his natural position -- running back.
That decision continues to pay dividends for Rockwall-Heath as Henderson rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns to power the Hawks to a 38-6 win over Dallas Kimball on Friday in a Class 4A Division I area-round game at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.
Heath (11-1) advances to play Sherman at 2 p.m. Saturday at Denton's Fouts Field in the 4A-I Region 2 semifinals.
"Rico does a great job of making people miss," Moss said. "I've never seen a kid like that that has that kind of instinct and vision. He's such a natural running back. I can't wait till the offseason when he gets some speed and strength. He's going to be a great one."
Henderson has become the centerpiece of Heath's run-based offense, and he plays wise beyond his years. He has natural instinct for finding holes and the athleticism to get through them.
And he did against a Kimball defensive front that's loaded with talent, including defensive tackle Justin Manning, who will likely be one of the area's top recruits in the class of 2013.
"I'm just glad we won," Henderson said of his performance. "I still have three years after this. I'm going to continue to work and get better."
The freshman got Heath on the board midway through the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run, but Kimball answered with a lengthy drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jaalen Adkins.
Heath regained the lead with a 16-yard pitch-and-catch from quarterback Cody Court to receiver Shyon Motlagh in the second quarter, but the game turned on the Hawks' next possession.
On the first play of the drive, Heath receiver Amaris Fields took a reverse 65 yards for a touchdown to give Heath a 21-6 lead.
"Our offensive coordinator, he calls trick plays 'down wasters,' so I was completely shocked he'd run a reverse," Moss said.
Kimball (9-3) never got going against Heath's defense. Using mostly five-wide receiver sets, Kimball looked out of rhythm in the passing game and its running game never found consistency.
The unit committed two costly turnovers -- a fumble at the beginning of the second quarter and interception at the end of the first half. Heath converted both turnovers into touchdowns en route to building a 28-6 halftime lead.
After the interception, Kimball completed just three passes for the rest of the game and finished with 192 yards of offense.
"The defense, wow," Henderson said. "I don't know what to say. All the seniors we have keep us going."