Ryan Nase grew up across the street from Northeast High School.
Now, he’s the man in charge.
Nase was hired as the Vikings football coach this week, taking over for Eric Clark who resigned at the end of the season.
“I grew up across the street, I used to know exactly how to get on the football field when it was locked,” Nase said with a laugh. “I didn’t go to Northeast, but I grew up right there, so I knew all about the school. And coming from the Catholic League and the Inter-Ac, I’m very familiar with city football.”
Nase, who graduated from Father Judge in 2002 and played at Lafayette, has been involved in football since he was playing. After graduating college, he served as an assistant under his high school coach Tom Coyle at Judge and later at Penn Charter.
He then took over the program at Cheltenham, where it took him three years to guide the Panthers to the Class 5A state championship game where they dropped a heartbreaker to Archbishop Wood.
He still works at Cheltenham as a social studies teacher, but now he inherits a very successful Northeast team that has been in the 6A Public League championship game each year since 2015, and won it each year since 2016. The lone exception was in 2020, when there was no Public League championship due to the pandemic.
Northeast has one of the top teams in the Public League, and Nase is determined to keep it that way.
“I’m excited to get started,” said Nase, who also assisted at Lafayette after graduating. “They’ve obviously been very successful, and it will be great to coach under athletic director Phil Gormley, who was a very successful football coach. I was very excited to get the opportunity.”
The Vikings have plenty of talent returning, and Nase expects to work well with them.
He also plans on having a team the community can be proud of, something Northeast has worked hard at over the years.
Nase is determined to keep that.
“One thing about the way I coach, the players are held accountable,” Nase said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t have fun. We will have lots of fun. Football is fun. But you have to put in the work, not just on the field, but off the field and especially in the classroom. You have to make sure you have a team the school can be proud of.”
He’ll also make sure the kids have a chance to play college football.
Northeast has done a fine job at getting players in college. Every year it seems they have a handful of Division I players, and that’s a streak that can continue judging by what the team has returning. But Nase is excited to pack other universities with top-notch talent.
“I think one thing I can do is help some of the kids who want to play at the next level get that opportunity, and I know Northeast has done that,” Nase said. “The Division I players, the guys who are going to the SEC or Power 5 schools are still going to go there. Those kids, the schools will find. But from coaching in college and building relationships, I know a lot of colleges that are looking for players. They want players who are good football players, but they want good players who do well in school and are high-character guys. That’s what we want to be, we want to be able to say to a school if they need a guy, we have one.”
It’s also a homecoming of sorts for Nase, who was born, raised and still lives in Northeast Philadelphia.
“My kids go to school at a Philly charter school, we love Philly, I’m a Northeast Philly guy,” Nase said. “There’s so many good kids coming through the area. This is where I’m from. I’m excited to coach these kids.”
Over the years, Northeast football coaches, from Clark to Gormley to Chris Riley to Mel Hinton, have all preached family first.
The new coach speaks the same language.
His wife Katie is a huge part of his coaching career, and his three kids, twins Cadence and Kalynn, both 8, and Carly, 4, love sports and look good in black and red.
Nase will also have great assistants helping him in the new job.
Walt Johnson and Marcus Godfrey, educators at Northeast, will be on the staff, as will Judge grad Casey Jones, and Rich Duncan-Murphy, who played at Marist, comes over from Bensalem. In all, the Vikings will have four coaches with Division I experience. Rounding out the staff will be Rich Williams, who coached at Roman Catholic, and Anthoney Lucas, who was at Northeast last year.
“Our assistants have college experience, they’re some great football minds,” Nase said. “I was very happy with the guys we were able to get. Good guys and they know football.”
For Nase, it’s a great situation.
And now he just wants to get down to football.
“I’m really excited to get started,” Nase said. “I love teaching football, and this is a great place to do it. We’ll work hard and hopefully we’re able to have some success.”