A lot of talented high school football players like to talk about their gaudy numbers.
Ubayd Steed is one of those players.
But Steed, a North Philadelphia resident, doesn’t talk about his great tackle numbers or how many yards or touchdowns he’s racked up. Instead, he likes to talk about another number.
“The thing I am proud of is my (grade point average),” said Steed, a junior running back and safety on the Northeast High School football team. “School comes first, without school, I wouldn’t be playing. That’s the main thing we do, that’s why I put it up there (on Twitter).
“I think it helps with college coaches, too. I want them to know that they’re getting someone who wants to learn. I love learning and I want to go to school.”
He’s learned a lot at Northeast when it comes to playing football. And it’s why coach Phil Gormley throws so much at his talented defensive back.
Steed makes the calls for the defense and when things need to be fixed, the Vikings coaching staff lets Steed make adjustments and set his teammates up.
“I think being smart helps a lot in football, you have to study everything,” said Steed, who is in honors classes. “You have to see what’s going on out there. I make the calls. They put that on me. That means a lot to me, I’m proud of that.”
He’s also proud of seeing what Northeast has done in Public League play as of late.
For the third straight year, the Vikings are the Public League 6A champions. They clinched their latest on Saturday night when they defeated rival Central 35–0.
The win means Northeast will look to win a city championship on Saturday when it hosts St. Joe’s Prep, the Catholic League 6A champion that bested La Salle.
The win over the Lancers marked the second time this season Northeast beat Central, and the Vikings will get a chance to win their third on Thanksgiving.
Steed was his solid self against Northeast, scoring a touchdown at running back and making three bone-crunching tackles on defense.
“We love beating Central because they’re our rival, but it means even more when you beat them in the championship. That’s the game. It was our biggest game of the year so far. That’s the one we needed to win to get where we want to go.”
Where Northeast wants to go is past St. Joe’s Prep.
The Vikings were bested by the Hawks in each of the past two seasons, but this year it’s a different Northeast team, at least on one side of the ball. Northeast has always had a stout defensive unit, but this year the Vikings run an offense that can put up points in a hurry.
Steed hopes that means Northeast finally gets past Prep, which is ranked among the top teams in the nation.
“This is what we’ve been working for all year,” Steed said. “We played them pretty good last year. They’re great, but we think we can beat them. We think we can beat anyone.”
If Steed plays at his best, they’ll certainly have a chance.
Steed isn’t the featured back on the team, but he sees a lot of time in the backfield and when he gets the ball, he takes advantage of it. And when he’s called upon to block, he does his best.
But Steed’s forte is being a vicious hitter, and his punishing shots were one of the reasons Northeast is 7–3 and still playing a week before Thanksgiving.
“I love playing defense, and I was ranked one of the top hitters in the state, so it’s nice to get recognized,” said Steed. “I love that. I love playing defense because our defense is always very good.
“I’d rather score a touchdown than make a tackle, but sometimes tackles can mean a lot. Both positions are great.”
Steed knows that if the Vikings are to beat Prep, he and his teammates will have to play the best game of the season. But it’s also what they’re been working for since the summer.
“Our offense is playing really well now,” said Steed, who is also the primary punt returner for Northeast. “I think that will be a lot different. We can score. We do a lot of things we didn’t do last year.”
Steed hopes football season continues for a few weeks, and ideally he’d like to see it end in Hershey next month. But when the season ends, he’ll be plenty busy.
“I’ve been getting a lot of attention from colleges,” said Steed, who also runs track at Northeast. “I absolutely want to play in college. I’ve had some schools contact me. They find me on Twitter, email, they send letters to my house. I love getting them.
“I have another year left so I have time, but I love starting to think about it. I love getting contacted. I want to play, and that means people want me.”