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Passing it forward

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz visited Northeast High School during practice to honor coach Phil Gormley on his dedication to the team and community.

Learning from the best: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz surprised the Northeast High School football team and coach Phil Gormley (below, left) when he showed up to run drills for the team last week. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

The Northeast High School Vikings are used to practicing football with the best. But sometimes, two heads are better than one.

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz surprised the Vikings and coach Phil Gormley last week when he showed up to run drills for the team. Gathering in a huddle at the end of practice, Ertz commended Gormley for his dedication to the team.

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“Coach Gormley cares about each and every guy out here, and I don’t think it’s like that at every program,” he said.

This was the second year in a row Ertz came to the school to honor Gormley for his hard work on the field and in the community.

“Being around here last year you could tell it’s a unique school,” Ertz said. “What he’s doing is unbelievable and the graduation rate he has really resonates with me.”


The Stanford University alum said he attributes his success to people pushing him to be the best he can be in high school, on and off the field.

“I had a lot of amazing coaches and my mom had a big part,” he said. He talked about being mentored by Brent Jones, a tight end who played for the San Francisco 49ers for 10 years. Ertz’s high school coach had reached out to Jones to hone his potential and give him direction.

“Without him I’d probably still be playing basketball,” Ertz said with a laugh.

Gormley said Ertz’s visits were good for the kids because Ertz shows academics are just as important as success on the field.

“It’s great for him to be here and see he’s a normal guy,” Gormley said. “He was once upon a time where they were. That’s what we talked about at the end, if you want to be great, you have to work as hard as he did.”


Before he left, Ertz made sure to wish the team luck on the upcoming game. On Thursday it went on to defeat John Bartram High School 28–6.

“My team, your team, it’s all about the details, and at the end of the day we’re going to give it everything we have, and let’s go win those championships,” he said to cheers. “Go dominate this week.”

“You go dominate, too,” someone called out.

He didn’t leave before talking about the prospects of a Super Bowl repeat, though.

“We got a lot of the season in front of us, but I like our chances as good as anyone else,” he said. “I love the guys I play with each and every day and it’s going to be a fun rest of the year.”

Ertz’s visit was sponsored by Campbell’s Chunky Soup and part of NFL’s Play Football. The initiative celebrates youth and high school football, and aims to highlight coaches who promote football participation and community values. ••

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