Former SP coach/administrator earns spot in MACJC ‘Hall’ 5/16/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2014

Former South Panola athletic director, head football coach and principal Henry Rath was inducted into the 2014 MACJC Sports Hall of Fame. Inductee Rath was congratulated by Mississippi Gulf Coast Community President Dr. Mary Graham. Photo and article submitted by MGCCC

Former SP coach/administrator  earns spot in MACJC ‘Hall’

A lifetime of achievement on and off the athletic field has earned Perkinston native Henry Rath a spot in the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame. Rath was inducted with 14 other members of the 2014 class Apr. 29 in Pearl.

Rath, a 2004 MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track at Perkinston A.H.S. and played football both ways and ran track for two years at Perkinston Junior College. In his first college game as a freshman, Rath caught a pass for a game-tying touchdown against Jones and ended up earning honorable Mention All-State honors for his efforts on the gridiron.

As a sophomore he helped lead the Bulldogs to a 7-3 record and led the team in rushing with 5.2 yards per carry. He also led the state in punting with a 44.2 yard average and went on to earn All-State and All-American honors as as also named team Most Valuable Player and earned the team’s Wentzel Memorial Trophy.

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Rath then played on both sides of the ball for two years at Memphis State University and led the team in interceptions as a senior.

He was offered a tryout with the NFL’S Green Bay Packers but instead chose to go into coaching where he remained for 17 years. That included stops at Northwest, three different high schools, and at Southern Miss. At Northwest, Rath coached three positions on the football team and also was the college’s head baseball coach and assistant basketball coach. The next stop took Rath to Forest High School, where he was head football coach and athletic director and led his team to the “Golden Chicken Bowl” victory over rival Morton.

Next came a five-year stint at South Panola High School where Rath was also head football coach and athletic director. He once again led his team to a post-season bowl victory, this one coming in the Jaycee Bowl against Horn Lake.

Rath’s next move was back to the collegiate level and The University of Southern Mississippi where he coached four different positions for the Golden eagles football squad. During his time in Hattiesburg, Rath coached NFL Hall of Fame Punter Ray Guy and witnessed him boot a 96-yard punt against Ole Miss and kick a 63-yard field goal against Utah State on the road in a snowstorm.

“I can’t take credit for those kicks,” Rath said, “because Ray Guy was already a great kicker when he got to Southern.”

In the mid 1970’s Rath went to Brandon where he was 12th grade principal, athletic director, and head football coach for the Bulldogs. From there, he made stops and served as principal at South Panola, Stone High, and Harrison Central High Schools.

Rath’s educational journey continued when he was elected to three, four-year terms as Superintendent of Stone County Schools. He also was called on to serve on the staffs of former Mississippi Governors Cliff Finch and Ronnie Musgrove.

“I was very fortunate to have worked for both Gov. Cliff Finch and Gov. Ronnie Musgrove,” Rath said. “Gov. Finch was my Sunday School teacher and I was Gov. Musgrove’s high school football coach.”

In addition to being inducted into the MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame and MACJC Hall of Fame, Rath also received the 1999 Award of Merit from the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and has served on more than 20 educational and community boards and committees, including the Executive Board of Directors of the State Superintendents Association, the Stone County Economic Development Council, the Southern Education Conference, the State Textbook Board, and the Stone County Utility Authority.

Both the Stone High Gymnasium and Activity Center and Sports Complex are named in his honor. He graduated from Perkinston Agricultural High School and holds degrees from Memphis State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Rath is married to the former Janette Bond and had two children and four grandchildren.
He joins George Sekul, Ken “Curly” Farris, Bob Weathers, Curtis Davis, Ed Evans, Bobby Holmes, Vernon Ehlers, Sue Ross, Earl King, and Josh Wells as MGCCC’S inductees into the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame.