David Nguyen and Hysiem Zimmerman have been friends for as long as they can remember.
Both North Philadelphia residents, they played football together growing up at various levels, but when they got to high school, they went different routes.
Nguyen started his varsity football career at Frankford High School. He’s a three-year starter, a three-year captain and one of the top players in the Public League.
Zimmerman started his football career at Ben Franklin, but transferred into Frankford this year.
It was the perfect way to end their high school careers.
“I came here because Frankford is family,” Zimmerman said. “We are all about family. Forget about me, I love you. That’s a saying we use at Frankford. It’s family. I came here because I wanted to be part of this. I love the school, but I’m happy I can play with (Nguyen). It’s a family here at Frankford, and I’m happy to be part of it.”
“This is how it’s been since I got here,” Nguyen said. “Frankford is all about family. That starts with the coaches. It’s what we play for. Forget about me, I love you. We always say that, and that’s how we act. We look out for each other.”
Nguyen and Zimmerman were happy to have one more game together when they led Frankford into a Thanksgiving Day game against Roman Catholic.
The Cahillites, who won the Catholic League 5A championship and fell just short of knocking off Imhotep Charter in the District 12 championship game, won the first game in the new Thanksgiving rivalry, besting the Pioneers 38-8.
And good news for Frankford, this game will be played again next year. Since North Catholic closed, Frankford has played a variety of teams on Thanksgiving, including Fels, Conwell-Egan, Boys Latin and last year Cheltenham.
The loss to Roman snapped a two-game winning streak for the Pioneers, who struggled this season, going 3-10. But a lot of that can be attributed to their schedule, which included tough games against Catholic League squads Father Judge and Archbishop Ryan, as well as Public League powers Northeast, Imhotep Charter and Olney Charter.
It wasn’t the season the seniors hoped to have after last year’s one-loss season that ended in the Public League championship game, but it was still a memorable campaign that included some great moments.
“I appreciate these seniors, I appreciate them so much,” said Frankford coach Damon Brockington, who last year coached Frankford to a 10-1 record, including seven shutouts.
“I don’t like saying we didn’t have a good season, I like to say we played a very tough schedule. We have work to do. But these are my guys. I appreciate them. I appreciate everything they have done.”
It goes both ways.
According to Nguyen and Zimmerman, the pair learned a lot by playing for Frankford. But more than anything, they enjoyed representing the school.
“I’ve known Coach Brockington my whole life, I know what playing for Frankford meant before I got here,” said Nguyen, who starts at center and defensive tackle. “I love playing for Frankford. It’s special, to play for Frankford. I know how much it means. I’m proud that I was able to play here. We had a good year. We did a lot of good things. And they’re going to be good next year, too.”
“I really wanted to be here and when I got here, I was so happy,” said Zimmerman, who plays wide receiver, safety and cornerback. “I got here and it was like I was always here. I knew (David), but I became family with the other players right away. As soon as I got here, we just wanted to get better and win. We wanted to win football games. We didn’t win as many as I wanted, but I’m really proud of what we did.”
They hope to continue to make things happen on the football field.
Both seniors have hopes of playing football in college, though both are unsure of where they’ll end up. They do have majors picked out and each has very good reasons for what they want to study.
Both eye to make the world a better place.
“I want to major in criminal justice, I want to make the city safer,” Nguyen said. “It’s dangerous. I would love to become a police officer. People need to feel safer, there’s a lot of violence out there. I want to help with that.”
“I’m looking at majoring in sports marketing, I want to stay around the game,” Zimmerman said. “But I really want to become a recruiter. I want to give back. I want to help kids get into school. I know that’s a very important job, a lot of kids need help. I think I would love to do that.”
They’ve now played their last game for Frankford, but they’ll always be Pioneers.
Brockington joked that Nguyen will eventually replace him as the coach of Frankford. He might not go that route, but like Brockington, he’ll always appreciate what Frankford did for him, and he’ll never be far way.
“I love Frankford, I’m so glad I’m here,” Zimmerman said. “I’m better for it. In football and in school.”
“I know I’ll be here, helping out anytime I can,” Nguyen said. “I’ll be here next Thanksgiving when I’m home from college. I love it here. I’ll always be here because I love (Brockington), and I love Frankford. This is my home.”