Senior Cam Gontek is back playing for George Washington High School, and the team and fans couldn’t be happier.
Cam Gontek went to the championship a year ago.
His football team didn’t win a game.
Gontek is a senior at Philadelphia Academy Charter and the starting quarterback on the George Washington High School football team. But last year, when the Eagles were suffering through a winless campaign, Gontek was playing football at Archbishop Ryan.
When the school year ended, he decided to go back to PACS, the school he attended during his freshman and sophomore years, which meant he could go back to playing for the Eagles because his school doesn’t have a football team.
And while he brought his strong arm with him, he also brought the experience of winning and the attitude that goes along with success.
“I was really excited about coming back, I loved everything about Ryan, but this was a better fit for me,” the Normandy resident said. “I played a few different positions at Ryan, but it really feels good being back here and playing quarterback.”
Gontek is almost as happy as the Washington supporters.
Since he’s returned, the Eagles have been flying high offensively.
Gontek threw for two touchdowns on Friday afternoon in a 48–13 loss to Springside Chestnut HIll Academy. The loss wasn’t a terrible one for the Eagles because they were playing a tough foe from the Inter-Ac League, but it certainly wasn’t as memorable as the week before, when the Eagles defeated KIPP DuBois, snapping a 14-game losing streak.
“It felt great to get that one, they got me with the water and everything,” said first-year head coach Stephen Benzio. “We have some veterans, but for the most part, we’re a very young football team. They know how to play, but they have to learn how to win.”
That’s why it’s so important to have a quarterback who knows how to win.
“What doesn’t he bring to (the team?)” Benzio asked. “He’s obviously a great player, he can throw, but he’s also our leader. The other kids are learning a lot from playing with him. He knows how to do things and he’s showing them the way.”
That’s probably Gontek’s favorite part about playing for Washington.
During his freshman year, he got the start on Thanksgiving and while he played well, he had a lot of experienced teammates work with him.
Now he’s trying to pay it forward.
“I’m really careful to help them, but not get on them,” Gontek said. “When we’re in the huddle, I’ll tell them that they need to get me time and I’ll make plays to give them confidence. I’ve played in big games before, a lot of them haven’t, so I try and teach them what I know.”
One thing Gontek knows is football.
Last year at Ryan, since the Raiders had a starting quarterback, he chipped in at tight end and safety, but he certainly missed controlling the huddle and throwing the ball.
Since he’s been back, Washington is 1–4, but he has certainly starred, throwing for six touchdowns and running for three more.
It’s tough to stop the Eagles’ offense because when Gontek drops back, he doesn’t look for his favorite receiver, he looks for the open one.
“We have a lot of guys who can make plays, so I just look around and try and get it to whoever has room,” Gontek said. “And then there are times when I try to run people over, get everyone excited. I love doing that. When you do something that gets everyone excited, it can help the team.”
Thus far, Gontek isn’t happy with his team’s record, but he’s definitely happy with the team’s progress. He’s also hopeful that the team’s schedule will lighten up a little bit now that they’re beginning the Public League National Division.
“We’ve lost, but I still think we have what it takes to win a championship,” Gontek said. “I’m not here to help them just in the future, I’m here to help them win this year. But I’m doing what I can to help them be good this year and next year.
“I’m working with (Rahmir Williams), he’s a very good quarterback. I’m trying to show him a few things. I want them to be good next year, but I want them to be good this year so we can win together while I’m here.”
Gontek’s top sport is football, but he’ll also play baseball and basketball at Philadelphia Academy Charter. But he’s hoping he is able to enjoy a fantastic ending to his football season before he turns in the pads.
So does his coach.
“We’re happy but we’re not satisfied,” Benzio said. “Last year was a tough one for them, but they’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go, but it helps that we played a tough nonleague schedule. We’re going to be ready, and (Gontek) is going to be the one who leads us.”