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Artesia High School football coach Cooper Henderson, center, stands with wife Judy Henderson, left, and Sen. Gay Kernan after being recognized Monday by the state Senate. (Courtesy Photo)

Artesia High School football coach Cooper Henderson, center, stands with wife Judy Henderson, left, and Sen. Gay Kernan after being recognized Monday by the state Senate. (Courtesy Photo)

Artesia High School football coach and athletic director Cooper Henderson was honored Monday in the state Senate for his recent accomplishments.

After leading the Bulldogs to their record 29th state football championship in December – his 14th since taking the helm in Artesia and the 15th of his career – Henderson was named National Football Coach of the Year for 2015 by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The ‘Dogs’ victory also gave them sole possession of the No. 3 spot on the NFHS list of all-time state championships, behind Little Rock Central, Ark., with 32 and Sioux Falls Washington, S.D., with 39. While those two schools have been counting titles since 1907 and 1905 respectively, however, Artesia’s 29 blue trophies have come since 1957, making them by far the most successful program of the modern era.

Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, led the coach’s recognition in Senate Chambers, and a standing ovation followed.

“The New Mexico State Senate showed it is honored to have Coach Henderson as a football coach in the state,” said Kernan. “We are so proud of Coach Henderson and for all he has done for the Artesia Bulldog football players on and off the field for so many years.

“Coach Henderson is a tremendous asset to the football program, and he has compiled a set of statistics that any coach would envy. It is a stellar record that everyone in southeastern New Mexico takes pride in.”

In addition to his achievements on the field, Henderson was recognized as being an active member of the Artesia community, having served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the City of Artesia Recreation Commission, and also as sponsor of the National Honor Society and a Sunday School teacher at First United Methodist Church.

“Coach Henderson has stated his goal for each season is to win a state championship and, in the long term, to develop men of integrity,” said Kernan, noting Bulldog football players past and present credit Henderson for helping to shape their lives.