Northeast’s Dunfee happy to pave way

Junior Jacob Dunfee is providing the same toughness last year’s team displayed as the Vikings change up their play style.

Northeast tackle Jacob Dunfee (left) helps open up a hole for running back Marlon White in a win over Frankford. PHOTO: MICHAEL GRAY

Last year, Jacob Dunfee served as an understudy on the Northeast High School football team.

Then a sophomore, Dunfee was a reserve tackle on the Vikings football team. And while he was gaining valuable experience in practice, he spent most of the games watching as the starters opened up holes all over the field as Northeast ran to the Public League AAAAAA championship and even put a little scare in St. Joe’s Prep before bowing out in the city championship game.

As Dunfee was watching, he saw Northeast call lots of running plays and not many pass plays, and a lot of the Vikings’ success was because they had a rugged offensive line that outgrunted other teams along the line of scrimmage.

“We had a predictable offense, but people couldn’t stop it because we did it so well,” Dunfee said. “They were really good. We had good running backs, but we definitely had one of the best offensive lines around and they were good leaders, too. They taught me a lot.”

This year, Dunfee is a starter and he’s providing the same toughness last year’s team displayed. But unlike last year, the Vikings aren’t relying so much on the run.

This year, the Vikings are doing a little bit of everything.

Thanks to a new offense brought in by new offensive coordinator Troy Gore, Northeast throws the ball a lot more. And the Vikings have found more success through the air thanks in part to new quarterback Charles Britt, who transferred in from Neumann-Goretti.

The new offense wasn’t hard to pick up for the skilled guys since many are new to the team, but the line is mostly made up of guys who have been around the program and they’re adjusting to the new way of Northeast football.

“It’s a lot of fun, I think it’s better because nobody knows what we’re going to do,” said Dunfee, who lives across the street from the school. “I have a lot of confidence in our quarterback and a lot of confidence in our receivers, so it’s good. But I also have a lot of confidence in our running backs, so we can run the ball, too.

“For the offensive line, it hasn’t been too hard because we started putting the offense in before the season. We all know what we have to do. We just have to get out and do our job. If it’s run blocking or pass blocking, we still have a job to do and if we don’t do our job, the rest of the offense can’t do their job.”

On Friday night, the Vikings had to knock off some rust after what was essentially a two-week layoff, but Northeast had enough to knock off rival Frankford 19–0 in a Public League game. The Vikings had a bye week, which was preceded by a game against Father Judge that was cancelled due to lightning after one play from scrimmage. The win over the Pioneers was Northeast’s first game since Labor Day weekend, when the Vikings fell to Haverford School 12–6. They opened their season with a shutout victory over Abington.

“It was tough, we tried to stay focused in practice, we kept the intensity up, but it was hard because we hadn’t played anyone in a while,” Dunfee said. “We didn’t play well at the start of the game, but once we got on track, we played a lot better. We weren’t ourselves for most of the first half, but we got better after that.

“It was also tough because it was Frankford. We love playing them. They’re a good team. We always want to beat them and they always want to beat us. Tonight, we got them. They’re a good team, I think they showed that.”

Northeast has a lot more it wants to show everyone in the city.

The Vikings came into the season with high expectations and despite losing early to Haverford School, those expectations are still sky high.

A win in their first Public League game means they still have a chance to go unbeaten in divisional play. And the ultimate goal is to play deep in to December. But things don’t get much easier from here on out. Northeast plays Simon Gratz this week, and then has a date with Imhotep Charter, one of the best teams in the state. The following week, it’s Northeast-Central.

“I think we’re playing really well right now, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Dunfee said. “We have to get better. The line still has a lot of work to do. I want to be one of the leaders of this team, and I think I have to get better. If I get better, that will make us better.”

Dunfee is just as strong in the classroom as he is on the football field.

He is in honors classes and his favorite subject is literature because he finds it the most challenging.

Now he wants to make sure his Vikings write the perfect chapter. After all, he has another year left but Northeast has a lot of seniors who are looking to make history.

“We want a state championship,” Dunfee said. “It will be hard. There are a lot of good teams in the Public League, and we know the Catholic League has great teams, so we have to beat them to make it. But if we play the way we’re capable of, I don’t think there’s any team that we can’t beat. We’re just that good.”

Even if it means changing up everything from a season ago.

“We look different, but we’re still winning,” Dunfee said. “We are learning and getting better.”