Every Pass Gives Henry Wendorf More Confidence as Harvard-Westlake’s Quarterback
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
There are many attributes needed to be a successful quarterback. Accuracy, arm strength, footwork, decision making, leadership, quick release, knowledge of the playbook, mobility, poise under pressure… the list goes on and on. Perhaps the most important one, though, is confidence. No position in sports is scrutinized as much, so having thick skin and being able to shake off mistakes are vital to a player’s longevity under center.
For Henry Wendorf, praise when you win and blame when you lose come with the territory—and he likes it that way.
“The more you do it, the more you get used to the highs and lows,” he says. “It’s good to have someone to show you the ropes.”
Wendorf had exactly that in his predecessor and fellow Palisadian Marshall Howe, who mentored him and groomed him for the role which he now finds himself in: the starter at Harvard-Westlake High.
“One of my goals was to get the two of them to work out together so Henry could kind of learn through osmosis,” says Harvard-Westlake’s quarterback coach Khaleel Jenkins. “Marshall checks all the boxes—he has all the qualities you look for in a quarterback. He has been a great role model for Henry in terms of how to handle the position.”
Howe, who opted to spend one year honing his skills at Avon Old Farms Prep School in Connecticut, threw for 1,285 yards and 15 touchdowns in six games as a senior for Harvard-Westlake last spring and Wendorf studied his every move.
“Marshall’s a Division 1 talent and makes great decisions, which is something I wasn’t good at,” Wendorf admits. “I was just chucking the ball up and hoping for the best. We never carpooled together, but I was his backup and because of the shorter season I only got about 10 plays. I actually think I played more as a freshman. I went to three camps this summer—Yale, Columbia and Penn—and I actually saw Marshall at the Columbia camp.”
Now a 6-4, 190-pound junior, Wendorf seems to be getting better with every snap and has thrown for more than 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in the Wolverines’ first three games. He was on target last Friday, completing 13 of 24 attempts for 243 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-35 win at El Camino Real.
“Looking at his stats on paper Henry’s doing well, but he’s shown us things we weren’t expecting,” says Jenkins, who played quarterback at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and privately coaches some of the area’s top prep prospects like Daniel Duran of Sierra Canyon. “He’s got those intangibles that you look for, he’s really open-minded and he’s started to come out of his shell.”
Wendorf’s first throw last week was a bomb to Jason Thompson for a 60-yard touchdown. The two also connected for a 55-yard touchdown on Harvard-Westlake’s first drive of the second half. In all, he completed passes to seven different receivers.
“I was very nervous at the start of the season but now we’re 3-0 and I feel great,” Wendorf says. “I have some great guys to throw to and it’s all about getting the timing down.”
Wendorf lives in the El Medio Bluffs, played basketball and flag football at the Palisades Recreation Center (winning the league with the Rams) and was a perennial PPBA All-Star, pitching the Red Sox to the Mustang Division title. He attended Carlthorp School in Santa Monica before enrolling at Harvard-Westlake in 7th grade. He is not the only athlete in his family.
Henry’s father Kirk was a running back at Arizona State from 1985-88 and his older sister Annie, now a junior at Wesleyan University, led her Santa Monica 12U Gold fastpitch squad to fifth place at the Amateur Softball Association’s Western National Championships in 2014.
Wendorf continues the legacy of Harvard-Westlake quarterbacks from Pacific Palisades, most recently Howe (who grew up in Marquez Knolls and the Riviera) and before him Chad Kanoff, a multi-sport star at St. Matthew’s who accounted for 85 touchdowns (74 passing and 11 rushing) in his Wolverines career. Kanoff enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at Princeton where he broke the Ivy League mark for single-season passing yards (3,474) in 2017 and set the school record for career passing yards (7,510). He played for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL in 2020.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.