In the previous five seasons, the Charles Henderson Trojans baseball team has made the playoffs every year and been to the championship series twice. The Trojans took home the state championship trophy in 2004.
The current senior class of Trojans has been crowned area champions four straight years and the tradition of the program is one of the factors that brought current head coach Derek Irons from Tuscaloosa to Troy.
“Charles Henderson is known across the state,” Irons said. “I remember back in the summer when this job became an option and I was talking with people all across the state about Charles Henderson and a lot of people said good things. Charles Henderson is recognized across the state and that is good because a lot of teams want to play good competition.”
Irons said there is a different feel at Henderson that not all coaches feel before a season.
“There is a unique pressure to live up to what the guys before you have done,” he said. “You know those guys are still following the program and they are expecting good things from us.”
Irons said he did wonder how the 2009 Trojans would respond to the program’s second trip to the Finals in 2008.
“One of the things I was most afraid of in taking over a program with such tradition was that they would assume that it is a given,” Irons said. “I thought they would think ‘This is the way it has been and we went to the finals last year and we will make it back this year because that is the way it is.’ But one of the first things I noticed is that is not the attitude of these guys. Their attitude is that they still have to go out there and earn it. Nobody is going to lie down because of that ‘CH’ on our hats and that is absolutely true.
The way the ’09 Trojans are handling the recent success of the CHHS program makes Irons happy.
“Tradition is great, but it is not going to win a playoff series for us (today),” he said. “We still have to earn it and live up to it and that is something that I have been proud that this team has done. They have not had the attitude that it is going to come because it did in the past. They have had the attitude of trying to seize it and make it the best season we can.”
The Trojans of ’09 did something that no Charles Henderson squad has done since the 2003 squad and that is go undefeated in area play. In the past the Trojans would always have that one game that would prevent a perfect area season, but this year’s Trojans made that happen. “There are not a lot of things that haven’t been done around here or haven’t been done lately, but going undefeated in the area was one of them and that was a neat thing for the seniors to have,” Irons said.
Irons emphasized how the city of Troy’s love of baseball has helped the baseball program at CHHS grow into what it has.
“It is crucial to the success of the high school program to have a strong middle school program and all the way down to the youth leagues,” he said. “I have been at schools where that is the case and I have been where that is not the case. It hurts when it is not like that and to be in a town with a community of people who take baseball seriously is great.”
CHHS principal David Helms said he believes Troy is a great baseball town. “The structure of baseball in Troy lends to the success we have had,” Helms said. “The progression stretches from T-Ball all the way up to when they get to us.”
Helms said the success is not only seen on the diamond.
“We have had success in a lot of sports and when you have success in athletics it helps your school,” Helms said. “It makes the hallways pleasant, the kids are buzzing about it and we like it because we get to promote it and use it for the spirit of the school.”
Success on the baseball diamond has been a constant on the campus of Charles Henderson and the 2009 Trojans are looking to get back to the Finals for the third time in six years and win their second state championship.