room, while Camden used the visiting
Each player’s locker was adorned with a
custom nameplate as well as an Eagles
hat. The smiles grew even wider once
the players made their way to the field,
where they were greeted by current and
former Eagles, including head coach Doug
Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz.
“It was just a really special day for the
kids,” president Don Smolenski says.
“The communities all coming together to
not let what happened Friday night be a
defining moment for these kids.”
“It might not undo what’s happened,
but just trying to bring some joy and get
all those families to just keep moving
forward,” Wentz says.
For Phillips, the gesture went a long way
in showing the players that people care
about them beyond athletics.
“When people know you care about
them, it makes you walk a little straighter,
a little prouder, with your shoulders back
and your chin up,” Phillips says.
Right before the game was resumed,
players from both teams stood across the
field arm in arm in a showcase of unity
between the two communities. While the
players were standing there, the dreaded
news of Tennant’s passing was announced
over the speakers.
40 2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE It served as a harsh reminder of why
everyone was there in the first place.
None of this started in a good way, but
here was Pleasantville and Camden trying
to make the best of it.
Moments later, the players lined up
over the ball and play continued with
Camden holding a 6-0 advantage.
Camden scored 16 points in the fourth
quarter to defeat Pleasantville, 22-0,
and advanced to play Cedar Creek in
the Central Jersey Group Championship
Game. Cedar Creek has only lost twice
in 2019 – to Camden and Pleasantville.
But football was merely a side note on this
cold day in November. This Wednesday
was about honoring Tennant and bringing
two hurting communities together.
“I wish we could have pulled it out
today because I think it would have
been a hell of a way to end the week,
but regardless, I’m proud of these
guys,” Pleasantville head coach Chris
Sacco said after the game.
After the game, reporters flock to Howard,
as his show of support for Tennant
touched people all across the nation.
Howard admits to not being able to grasp
the impact of his gesture fully, but says he
wanted to do his part in showing other
children how to keep fighting, no matter
“It’s a lot of ups and downs in life,”
Howard says while his mother, Keisha
Miles, stands nearby, beaming with pride
at her son’s maturity. “You might get
knocked down one day, but you gotta get
up the next day. It’s very hard to deal with
or even cope with, but you have to do it.”
The game went a long way toward
soothing the pain left from the shooting,
but there is still much healing left to do,
especially in Pleasantville.
“We’re mourning,” Pleasantville High
School athletic director Stephen L.
Townsend says. “We’re grieving right now.
This is like our third shooting.”
“We’re resilient. We’re strong. We’re
going to come back from this, and we’re
going to bond and build together,” he
adds. “That’s what it’s all about, bond and
Part of the building will be changes to
the security protocols at Pleasantville’s
But that is only the beginning.
“I think Pleasantville is going to be strong
because Pleasantville is going to come
together as a community,” Miles says.
“Maybe this incident might have brought
Pleasantville together and we have to
recognize and protect our youth. We have
to build our youth and we also have to
protect our youth. Point blank. Period.”