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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Giants offensive linemen Mike Remmers and Kevin Zeitler compare high school football from where they grew to football here in the East

Giants right tackle Mike Remmers played on two high school state championship teams in Oregon. Photo by Al Thompson

EAST RUTHERFORD: This is the time of the year when high school football is winding down its season. Some teams are fortunate enough to make it deep into the playoffs.

But there is a tradition throughout the Delaware Valley of high school football on Thanksgiving Day. Some rivalries like Archbishop Carroll and Roman Catholic are just starting a tradition.

Others, like between Northeast vs. Central High Schools, is the oldest rivalry in the United States at 125 years and counting.

Footballstories this week talked to some professional football players not from this area about their high school football memories.

“We never had games on Thanksgiving, but we would always have to practice on Thanksgiving,” Giants tackle Mike Remmers said at his locker at the Quest Training facility this week as the Giants prepared to take on the Green Bay Packers. “It was always kind of a goal to make it far enough in the playoffs to be practicing on Thanksgiving. So that was always a fond memory.”

Remmers, now 30, brought up an annual Thanksgiving Day football game played back in Portland, Oregon where he was raised and played high school football at Jesuit High School.

Remmers was a three-year letter-winner at left tackle and defensive end and earned second-team All-Metro honors at both positions as Jesuit won two state football titles during his varsity career.

With that as his high school background it is no wonder his buddies still stay in touch around this time of year.

“I have a group of high school friends that texted me last night that ‘we’ve got the Turkey Bowl coming up this year,’ Remmers said. “They have it every single year. I have a bunch of friends that do that. I was telling them. ‘I wish I could be there guys but I’ve got the Parkers this week.”

The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder had never heard these rivalries played on Thanksgiving. But when told thousands of alumni come out to cheer on their alma mater, all he could say was “That’s awesome, that’s cool.”

Remmers played college football at Oregon State, where he finished his career as the Beaver with the sixth-most starts in school history. He signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Denver Broncos.

Remmers has been to all four corners of the NFL landscape including the practice squads for the Broncos (2012) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012–2013). He also had stints with other clubs including the San Diego Chargers (2013), Minnesota Vikings (2013), St. Louis Rams (2014-offseason only), Carolina Panthers (2014–2016), Vikings (2017–2018) and now the Giants.

Remmers was asked if he had any moments that stood out as memories other than the championships.

“Nothing football-wise,” He said. “But I bleached my hair…sometimes I look back …and not quite sure what I was thinking. Everybody did it at that time. I didn’t have the beard then…I look at pictures and I think ‘what was I doing?”

Remmers reflected on the sport that has been so good to him his entire life.

“Football is a simple game when you break it down and think about it,” Remmers said. “Score more points than the other team. There’s a lot more on the line now. I’m just thankful I’m still playing. I have friends and family that wish they were still playing. I am thankful.”

Giants Kevin Zeitler played on three high school state championship teams in Wisconsin. Photo by Al Thompson

Directly to his left on the Giants offensive line is guard Kevin Zeitler.

Like Remmers, Zeitler was acquired in the offseason to upgrade Big Blue’s offensive line.

Zeitler was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Wisconsin by the Cincinnati Bengals where he played for five seasons. He went on to play for the Cleveland Browns for two years and now for the Giants.

Like Remmers, Zeitler was fortunate to play on a great high school football program.

Zeitler was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He attended Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and played for Wisconsin Lutheran Vikings high school football team.

A three-year letter winner in football, Zeitler was honored first-team all-conference, first-team all region and second-team all-area as a junior. In his senior year, he gathered first-team all-conference, conference lineman of the year, first-team all region, and first-team all-area honors.

“Thanksgiving weekend was always right before the state championship,” Zeitler said at his locker during the week leading up to the Giants game against Green Bay at MetLife Stadium (FOX in NY area 1:00 P.M.). “Every year we were playing in the state championship, we won three state titles. For me it was great, we’d go to Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin and play for the title. I’ve had championship memories since then.”

The 6-4, 315 pounder said he couldn’t remember bleaching his hair or doing anything regrettable during his high school football days. Wisconsin Lutheran was a Division three school, much smaller than the other schools in their conference. Zeitler said it didn’t matter to the Vikings.

“I didn’t have any cringe ones,” Zeitler said with a grin. “We had a good team, we ran a triple option, we were scoring all the time. It was fun. We were a D-three school, all the D-1 and D-2 schools, we were throwing them around. It was really fun. We just beat them up.” *

Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii

Some bio information taken from Wikipedia.

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