Sometimes getting pushed around can be a good thing.
Just ask Jamar “Steve” Brison.
Brison is a defensive tackle on the Northeast High School football team, and when you come into a school with Division I linemen already on the team, you’re going to take your lumps. The Vikings had great grunts along both the offensive and defensive lines, so when Brison was younger, he would often come up on the short end of the stick.
He didn’t get discouraged.
Instead, he got better and used the experience to make him a better football player.
“In practice, we work really hard, from warm-ups to conditioning to individual drills, we always work really hard,” said Brison, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs about 260 pounds. “I was lucky when I got here, they had so many great players, so many guys who were really good and I could learn from.
“Lining up to great players, you talk to them and they help you. They give you tips. It was an awesome experience. I would ask questions, anything after one on ones, if I felt like I wasn’t great in a rep, they would tell me how to do better next time. They looked out. They always wanted to show us what we needed to do to be better. They pushed us to be great. They were great for all of us because they cared about the future.”
The future is now.
Brison was a starter last year on a Northeast team that proved to be stout in winning games against tough teams like Neumann-Goretti and West Catholic during the spring season. But this year, things are back to normal and the Vikings will once again be in the mix to win the Public League championship.
Last year, under first-year head coach Eric Clark, the Vikings went 5-1, their only loss was a close one to Imhotep Charter in the final game of the season.
This year, the Vikings will look to get back to winning titles, something they had done for four consecutive years before last year. There were no Public League champions crowned in 2020 because of the shortened season due to the pandemic.
“When we played in the spring, we had so much fun because we just wanted to play,” said Brison, who lives in Frankford. “Just to be able to play with the seniors who just graduated, I feel like I needed that. Even through the whole stress of not having a season, we just wanted to have a season. It really helped that we played.
“But this year, we expect more. There was no championship to play for last year, but that’s always our goal. I feel we’re one of the best teams in the city. We’re one of the top teams around. Our goal isn’t to have a good season, we want championships. Public League and we would love a state championship.”
For that to happen, the Vikings will need a strong effort from their lines, and that starts with Brison.
Last year was his first time as a full-time starter, and he played well for a defense that caused all of its opponents problems. It was a learning experience for him, and he couldn’t be happier with the results.
“I think the whole team got better, it was a good time to play and see where we are since we didn’t play (in the fall),” Brison said. “I know I got better. I feel like my footwork has improved. My hands. My reading. The blocks, seeing them and realizing how to shed them. I felt like I just got better overall in the spring. But way more work to be put in. We have to put in the work now so we’re ready when the season starts.”
Brison will be responsible for manning his position, but he’ll also be called on to show the younger players how to play like Vikings.
Every team will be behind the eight ball since they didn’t have a truly full football season a year ago, and the Vikings are no different.
Brison is going to see to it that the young guys grow up in a hurry.
“I try to bring great vibes,” Brison said. “If someone is having a bad practice, I’ll talk to them. Let’s laugh and joke around. I take it seriously, but when it’s time to work, we work. When it’s time to bring the energy, I try to bring the energy. But I want people to have fun.
“I’m a captain and that means a lot to me because I’m proud of being on this team. It means a lot to play for Northeast and it means everything to be a captain. I’m going to make sure I earn that right.”
Brison hopes his final year produces a championship. He also wants to earn a scholarship to play in college, where he’s leaning toward majoring in business. He’s eyeing a great season, stat wise, but his ultimate goal is for the Vikings to remain an elite team.
“I would love to get seven sacks and have a great year, but that’s not most important,” Brison said. “I want to win a championship. That’s what I’m playing for. I want to keep Northeast as one of the top schools in the city. I feel we’re a good team, but we can be a great team. If we do what we need to, we can be a great team. That’s my goal.”