By TOM WILLIAMS
If you were there on that Saturday in October of 1965 you will never forget what you saw.
If you weren’t, let’s see if words can describe what happened.
Ocean City High School defeated Hammonton, 50-20. Junior John Henry set the stage by scoring five times in the first half. The first was from 62 yards away. Then, in quick succession, he scored from nine, 55, 62 and 64 yards. He also caught a pass from Bob Glaspey that he turned into a 53-yard gain, though he was tackled on the 19-yard line.
It was one of the most spectacular performances in Ocean City football history.
In Ocean City’s first win of that season, 12-6 over Lower Cape May, Henry scored the two Ocean City TDs on runs of 89 and 82 yards. He would finish his career with 956 rushing yards, fourth best in school history at the time.
In case the fact escapes you, John Henry, who died in his sleep today at age 70, was fast.
In the spring, he broke a 16-year old school record in the 100-yard dash that lasted for 20 years and he was part of a relay team that set another school record.
After the 1999-2000 school year ended, All-Century teams were selected for Ocean City High School. There were only 17 male athletes who were named to OCHS All-Century teams in two different sports. John Henry was one of them – joining athletes like Fenton Carey, Archie Harris, Joe Kennedy, Scott Lipford, Bob McAllister and Joe Myers on the list.
But his contributions to the community went far beyond his success in sports and continued after he finished high school.
He was a gentle, unassuming man whose relatives competed successfully in sports for a couple more generations. He loved to ride around town on that over-sized three-wheeler. And he did his part to reduce the fish population in the area.
John Henry was the type of person, and the kind of athlete, you will always remember.