Skip to main content

PARKLAND, Wash. - The sharp cuts, the zig-zagging through traffic, the mid-air pass snatches - even among some of the best high school football players in Washington, this talent stands out.

More than a year ago, Unterrio Latin-Henley burst onto the scene as a ninth grader at Eastside Catholic. The running back hauled in a pair of touchdown passes in his first game as the Crusaders blanked then-No. 1 O'Dea, 20-0.

He was a budding superstar - a name with buzz, a big-play style with flair. Six FBS offers had rolled in, including five from Pacific-12 Conference programs such as USC, Utah, UW and WSU.

And as quickly as he arrived, Latin-Henley was gone. By the end of the 2021 spring pandemic season, he was off the roster, and nowhere to be found.

But this summer, Latin-Henley was resurfaced around the state at some of the top passing camps, including the Pacific Lutheran University 11v11 High School Football Tournament and Showcase on Saturday.

If you didn't see him, don't be alarmed - Latin-Henley was the red-white-and-blue blur scurrying around the Lutes' practice field.

Now living with his mother in Parkland, Latin-Henley is a member of the Washington Patriots program, a member of the 2A SPSL.

"I feel like I did kind of disappear," Latin-Henley said. "But people now see me showing up. They are seeing what I've got. I am just wearing a different uniform."

After that early-March breakout game against O'Dea in 2021, Latin-Henley played in a few more games before he suddenly stopped coming to practice. He eventually withdrew from school.

"I had a lot going on - family issues, communication issues - so I went off the grid," Latin-Henley said.

He moved back to Pierce County and initially looked into enrolling at Lincoln. But after his mom relocated to Parkland, he settled in at Washington.

Last fall, he was cleared to play in the final four games of the Patriots' run to the district playoffs. Playing running back and slot receiver, he rushed for 351 yards and six touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for another 202 yards and a score.

He single-handedly almost led Washington to the 2A state tournament. He rushed for 170 yards and four touchdowns in the team's 28-26 loss to Enumclaw.

"I knew some of the guys, but it was a big adjustment in terms of play style and tempo of the game," said Latin-Henley, who spent his early years in Parkland attending Keithley Middle School before going up to join cousin Kobe Muasau at Eastside Catholic.

"It didn't take me a long time to get on the field because of my God-given gifts. But to strike a bond and knowing how the team worked ... I had to adapt."

Now, he looks comfortable with his second team, even though he has battled a string of shoulder dislocations that have limited his on-field time.

"I see this team getting better," Latin-Henley said. "And I tell myself, I can get myself better - 10 times better. I just need the reps."

Latin-Henley just loves being on a football field again.

"I am glad I am back," he said.