FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Among the visitors at Wednesday’s wind-whipped, rain-soaked practice between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles was Tony LaRussa, the newly minted baseball Hall of Fame manager and a longtime friend of Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

On Chip Kelly’s side, the visitors included … Mike Zamarchi.

And before you ask who he is, all you really need to know is Kelly, the second-year head coach of the Eagles, considers him a close friend.

Zamarchi, the boys’ basketball coach at Marshwood High in Berwick, has known Kelly for nearly two decades. He was at the practice with Marc Schoff, like Zamarchi a former star at Marshwood and now the baseball coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, New Hampshire (Kelly’s birthplace).

“We’re just good friends,” said Zamarchi of Kelly, after joining the Eagles for lunch following practice. “I hang with him in the summer. He’s just a nice guy.”

Kelly also is considered one of the most gifted offensive coaches in the NFL. Last year, in his first season, he led the Eagles to the NFC East title while setting franchise records for points (442), net yards (6,676), touchdowns (53), passing yards (4,406) and fewest turnovers (19). They also had an NFL-record 99 plays of over 20 yards.

But that’s what Kelly’s teams always have done.

Kelly’s coaching resume began at Columbia University in 1990, where he was a defensive coach, but it wasn’t until he became the offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire in 1999 that his career took off.

By then he had already met Zamarchi and others in a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, restaurant. They were all beginning their coaching careers and got together weekly to discuss not only sports but life in general. At times Kelly would use salt and pepper shakers to illustrate offensive plays.

In his final four years at UNH, the Wildcats averaged over 30 points a game. In his last year, quarterback Ricky Santos won the Walter Payton Award as the outstanding player in the FCS.

Kelly went to Oregon in 2007 as its offensive coordinator, then became head coach in 2009. In four seasons, Oregon averaged 44.7 points a game and Kelly took the Ducks to the 2011 national championship game.

But as Zamarchi and many others know, no matter where Kelly has gone, he has never forgotten his friends or where he came from.

Kelly has held an annual charity golf tournament in New Hampshire. And while he was born on the other side of the Piscataqua River to Paul and Jean Kelly, his family ties to Maine are deep.

His mother was raised in Scarborough and attended the University of Maine. Chip Kelly spent many summers at her family’s home on Pine Point. Two years ago he bought his parents a home in Saco.

Kelly, who typically refrains from talking about his personal life, said in a Wednesday morning press conference that there is nothing extraordinary about why he maintains his ties with Maine and New Hampshire.

“There’s always a place in your heart for the place you grew up,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I get a chance to go home. My family still lives up there. (I get to) see a lot of friends that I grew up with.

“I think that’s the foundations we’re all built upon.”

Zamarchi is glad to be part of it. While the inner circle of Kelly’s friends has grown over the years, the two have stayed close. Kelly has always invited his friends to attend the biggest games his teams have played. Many were at the national championship game won by Auburn and Cam Newton, 22-19. They made trips to Philadelphia last year, as well as to Green Bay, to see the Eagles play.

But Zamarchi and the other pals also know Kelly is all business.

On Wednesday, for example, Zarmarchi said, “We just said ‘Hi,’ then watched practice. It was good. He’s football all the time.”

Kelly said as much when he was asked in his morning press conference if he was going to have time to visit his family this week.

“Not really,” he replied. “We’re here to kind of go to work. It’s really busy for us getting ready to go against a really good team (on Friday night).”

He and Belichick have established a nice working relationship, dating to Kelly’s days as an assistant at UNH. He would ask to come to practice and Belichick was, he said, “very gracious. He always let us come watch and visit.”

And while there were those in the national media who predicted Kelly’s high-octane offense wouldn’t work in the NFL, Belichick is one guy who wasn’t surprised that it did.

“Chip is a good coach, does a good job,” he said. “They’re a good football team. They’re very dynamic on offense and created more explosive plays than anybody in the league.”

When the teams play in their second preseason game at Gillette Stadium on Friday night, Zamarchi and others will be there cheering Kelly on.

“Really,” said Zamarchi, “he’s just a down-to-earth guy, a heck of a guy.”

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