Zach Ertz did not start out as a tight end in the Monte Vista High School football program.
He was the quarterback on the freshman team, the leader of the Mustangs’ offense. Ertz didn’t last all that long at the position.
“He would have been a heck of a quarterback, but we had a couple of other guys, too, that were good,” Ertz’s coach, Craig Bergman, recalled Monday in a telephone interview from the Danville campus. “We saw his potential as a possible tight end/receiver type guy. He hadn’t ever played that position.”
Ertz changed positions when he got to the junior varsity team. He was only on the JVs for half of the season.
“We saw his potential and we brought him up (to the varsity),” said Bergman, who has ties to the Napa Valley. Bergman’s father-in-law and mother-in-law, Doug and Jan McGeorge, live in Napa.
“He obviously made a contribution immediately,” said Bergman.
Today, Ertz is one of the top tight ends in the NFL. After graduating from Monte Vista in 2009, he went on to play for Stanford and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He was the 35th overall player taken in the draft.
Ertz caught seven passes for 67 yards and had an 11-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Nick Foles as the Eagles beat the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Ertz had a long reception of 19 yards, that one coming in the second quarter.
“If the quarterback has enough time, Zack is going to get open,” said Bergman. “He’s been a go-to guy on all their third and fourth downs throughout the whole season, especially in the playoffs.”
Ertz’s touchdown reception came on a third and 7, capping a drive of 75 yards in 14 plays and giving Philadelphia a 38-33 lead with 2:25 to go.
He had two other receptions in the drive – a seven-yard catch from Foles on third and 6 from the Philadelphia 29-yard line, and a two-yard catch from Foles on fourth and 1 from the Eagles’ 45-yard line.
“It didn’t surprise me that he made a lot of plays, because when the chips are down, they tend to go to him with their offense,” said Bergman. “He did such a wonderful job.”
Bergman said he talks often with Ertz, who during the 2017 regular season caught 74 passes for 824 yards with eight touchdowns. He was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl roster.
“We actually spoke (Monday morning),” said Bergman.
Ertz had a big senior season for Monte Vista, catching 56 passes for 756 yards with 14 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-State selection by Scout.com, first team All-Metro by the San Francisco Chronicle, and first team All-East Bay Athletic League. He was a two-time All-Northern California first team pick by NorCalPreps.com and a two-time Contra Costa Times All-East Bay selection.
Scout.com listed him as the fourth-best tight end prospect in the country.
“He was recruited heavily by a lot of schools,” said Bergman, who stepped down in 2016 after 20 years of leading the Mustangs. “All of the doors were open for him, because he’s such a good student. He had not just all the Division I schools, but he also had all the Ivy League schools trying to get him. He had a great class of athletes that were with him.”
Ertz was used on passing plays all over the field for Monte Vista, a CIF North Coast Section school.
“He ran really good routes,” said Bergman, who was Monte Vista’s Athletic Director for 14 years. “He caught the ball well. He’s such a big, big target. We used to do a lot of things with him. We’d throw the ball up to him. We’d throw the ball underneath to him. We’d throw the ball deep to him.
“I distinctly remember one play that I used to show all the recruiters. We ran a shovel pass to him underneath and he went 80 yards for a touchdown. He out-ran the whole James Logan defense. You watch that as a college coach and you go, ‘OK, that kid can play.’ ”
Ertz was a unanimous All-American, receiving first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation during his senior season for Stanford. He caught 69 passes for 898 yards.
Bergman graduated in 1985 from Cloverdale High, where he was a standout in football and basketball. He played on two CIF state champion basketball teams.
He played both football and basketball at the University of Arizona.
Monte Vista has one of the top programs in the NCS.
Next year, Napa, Vintage and American Canyon high schools will begin playing in the North Coast Section, and along with Justin-Siena, will be in the Vine Valley Athletic League. The seven-school league also has Sonoma Valley, Petaluma and Casa Grande.
Napa, Vintage and American Canyon will be leaving the Sac-Joaquin Section after the current school year.
“It’s exciting. It’s a good fit,” said Bergman. “I’m really glad that they’re coming in. They’re going to have a great league. I think they’re going to fit right in.
“Growing up, Napa and Vintage were some of the best football programs in Northern California. They’ve got a good fan base, a great stadium to play in. I love that stadium.”