The Thanksgiving rivalry between Northeast and Central reaches a personal level for the Steed brothers.
Ubayd Steed would do anything for his brother.
But he won’t let him win.
Steed is a sophomore safety on the Northeast High School football team. His brother Basheer is a senior linebacker on the Central football team.
Normally it wouldn’t be a huge issue for two brothers to play at different schools, but Northeast-Central is the biggest rivalry in the city because of the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
This year, the teams also had a meeting early in the regular season, and both teams qualified for the Public League Class AAAAAA championship game, the second time in as many years the teams squared off for a plaque.
“My whole family was into it, my aunt, my mom, my dad, everyone,” Steed said. “My family is a huge football family, they love it. During our games against (Central), they sit on one side for a half and then switch sides. They’re supportive of both of us. They want us both to do well.”
For the second time this year, it was the younger brother’s night.
Northeast defeated Central, 41–0, in the championship game to keep the Public League trophy at Cottman and Algon.
Steed played a major role in the victory, scoring two touchdowns on interceptions. They were the second and third scores of the game for the Vikings, who will host St. Joe’s Prep on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Steed, who came into the season as a running back, didn’t have an interception before the championship game.
His pair Saturday assured the Vikings the title.
“The second one, I’d say was the biggest one,” said Steed, who now primarily plays defense but still sees some time in the offensive backfield. “As soon as I caught it and scored, the entire team greeted me down there. It was a big play because Central is really good. We beat them in September, so we had to make sure we weren’t overconfident. I know my brother is a great athlete, they have a lot of good players. We didn’t overlook them at all because we know how good they are.”
Steed’s performance was the best of his career, and earned him Most Valuable Player honors of the championship game.
Winning that award wasn’t as important as watching his entire team celebrate the title, but it was a great reward.
“I’m happy that in a big game, I was able to show people what I can do,” Steed said. “I’m glad we showed what our defense can do. We have such a good defense. Our defensive line gets after it, our linebackers are really good and our defensive backs, we just try to shut teams down. We have a very good defense.”
They’ll need one this week.
Prep, the defending state champion, comes into the city title game undefeated.
The Hawks are ranked №2 among Catholic school football teams in the nation.
Defeating the Hawks would be quite an accomplishment, but Steed believes his team is ready.
“We didn’t work hard all offseason just to lose, to roll over,” Steed said. “They’re really good, everybody knows that, but we’re going to play four quarters. We’re going to play and see what we can do. They’re good, but so are we.”
Steed credits his coaches and teammates for helping him get better. He also throws a lot of praise on his opponent.
“My brother made me a better athlete and football player,” Steed said. “We would work out together, we played in 7-on-7 games. I’m definitely a better football player because he’s worked with me.
“We put in lots of work as a team, too. This year, we started working out a lot harder in the weight room, we had a program. And we ran track. We did everything we could to win because we lost a lot of good players after last year, but we wanted to still win the Public League championship.”
While Steed was elated his squad won another title, he was a little disappointed his brother didn’t get a chance to experience the thrill of winning a title.
“I think he was happy for me, and he congratulated me but I know it was hard for him,” Steed said. “That’s his team. They’re like us, they’re like family. They really wanted to win just like I really wanted to win.”
So maybe little brother will let big brother get some revenge on Thanksgiving?
“No, we have to win that one, that’s the biggest game, too,” Steed said. “Thanksgiving is the game everyone cares about, so we have to win that.
“Next year, when he’s gone, I think he’ll want to see me win. He loves Central, but we’re family. We’re really close, and I know he’ll want to see me win. That’s what family does.”
Next week, Basheer will be pulling for the team that beat his team in the championship game.
“I know he’ll want us to beat Prep,” Steed said. “My whole family will be there. We love football. Everyone will be there hoping we win. We’re going to do our best.” ••