Quarterbacks are in a position of leadership.
And Sabor Stevens proves that on and off the field.
Stevens is a junior on the Northeast High School football team, and every game, he leads the offense on the field. But during school time, he does it in the classroom through the peer group connection program.
He uses those same leadership in both activities.
“I’m with PGC, it’s a group that helps out the ninth-graders, we work with them, just help them,” said Stevens, who lives in Oak Lane. “They give you a group of freshmen, and you just let them know what’s going on and tell them they have to fight through high school, to stay focused and not quit. You know, do your work.
“I was picked to do it. One of the teachers said that I was a quarterback for the football team, so I have to be a good leader, so I should do it. I’m glad I’m doing it, it’s a great course. I think it can help a lot of them.”
Stevens has certainly been helping the Northeast football team all season in a season that produced yet another Public League Class 6A championship, the school’s fifth in a row.
Stevens didn’t open the season as the starter, but he got some run in the first game of the season and he never gave it up. He guided a balanced offense that was explosive in many games. The ones they didn’t light up the scoreboard were the times they were playing tough teams. Among their opponents were St. Joe’s (Hammonton, New Jersey), St. Peter’s Prep and Imhotep Charter, three of the top teams in the area.
And since Northeast won the Public League championship, it earned the right to play in the District 12 6A championship, also known as the city championship, on Saturday. There, the Vikings fell to the defending state champion St. Joe’s Prep 41-6. The loss gives Northeast a 6-5 record heading into arguably its biggest game of the season on Thanksgiving when the Vikings host Central in the longtime rivalry.
They should be ready after playing the Hawks in a game that was played at Cardinal O’Hara instead of Northeast because the School District of Philadelphia ruled games in the city weren’t allowed to have large crowds due to violence.
“I love playing the good teams because it helps you get better, but it’s very challenging,” said Stevens, who was playing in his first city title game. “St. Joe’s Prep has a lot of athletes, and they beat us, but I was really proud of the way our guys played. We competed, we just weren’t good enough to beat them tonight.
“All season we had these kinds of games, against tough teams, and I think they made us better. That was the good thing about the season. The bad thing is we didn’t play as many games as we wanted to. We lost games because of COVID and one game was canceled during the game because the other team had ineligible players. I wish we had more games, so I’m glad we have Thanksgiving.”
Stevens could use the experience.
He’s a junior, but he hasn’t had the reps most juniors would typically have by this time in their career. Last year, the Public League moved its schedule to the spring because of the pandemic and there were very few opportunities for junior varsity players to get experience.
He also lost most of the offseason of his freshman season because of the pandemic.
Stevens has been a quarterback since he was 8, playing for teams in Oak Lane and Oxford Circle, so he knew how to play, but high school football is a different animal.
“When I first played varsity, I was really surprised by the speed of it,” Stevens said. “Everyone is so fast. Especially when you’re playing good teams. I had to learn a lot. But I got better.
“I was the backup last year, Deandre Green was our quarterback, and he was a great mentor. He took me under his wing, he helped me, encouraged me, taught me things I needed to know and showed me the plays. He taught me a lot, so I’m trying to help guys now. If you’re the quarterback, you need to.”
Stevens has one final mission this season before he turns his attention to the offseason. He hopes the Vikings can end the season with a win to show the seniors off on a high note. After that, it’s time to get back in the gym and start working for next year.
“I think next year we’re going to be as good or even maybe better,” Stevens said. “This year, we saw what we need to do. Senior year will be here really fast, so you have to be prepared. We’re all going to work harder because we wanted it so bad this year.
“This was a good year for me. I learned a lot. Honestly, to start for a team that went to the city championship and won the Public League championship, it meant a lot to me. We had a really good season, but next year I want more. We all do. So we’ll work really hard for it.”