Khadir Rowe loves to be on the field.
And he’ll do anything to get there.
That’s why whenever the starting linebacker is at football practice with his Northeast High School football team and they run first-team offense, Rowe always steps up to help out.
He does it for many reasons, but the ultimate goal is to help the team.
“Whenever they have first-team offense out there in practice, I play scout team,” said Rowe, who plays fullback on offense in certain packages. “I just love playing football. You don’t see a lot of seniors doing it, it’s usually the younger guys, but I love playing scout team.
“The way I see it is if I want to learn how to play against the best, scout team helps me because I’m going against the best offense in the state. We have a great offense. And I get better by playing them. And I hope I make them better. The goal is to make sure we have the best team, and the more work we put in, the better.”
The Vikings are putting in a lot of work this year, and so far, it’s going very well.
Northeast has a hard schedule and the Vikings are 4-2 on the season. Their losses were to Archbishop Wood and Imhotep Charter. Both schools are expected to contend for state championships this year. They’ve also won some big games, knocking off Winslow Township (New Jersey), Cheltenham, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Simon Gratz.
Every game has been a battle, including the team’s 28-0 loss to the Panthers on Friday. But Rowe likes what he’s seen from his team and believes the Vikings can make a lot of noise, not only in the Public League, but at the state level.
“We have a great team and we play for each other,” said Rowe, who lives in North Philly. “We have a really good defense. I play Mike linebacker, so I make the calls and I’m surrounded by so much talent.
“Our goals are to beat Imhotep, win the Public League and then make the state playoffs. It’s hard because there’s so many great teams you have to beat to win the Public League and make the state playoffs, but I think we have a great team. I think we can have a great year.”
Rowe is no stranger to playing for great teams.
He started out his athletic career at McDevitt. When the school closed, he transferred to Archbishop Wood, and while he had a great experience at the Catholic schools, he’s very happy to be with Northeast.
“It was hard to leave, but at the same time, it wasn’t, because as soon as I got to Northeast, they made me part of the family,” Rowe said. “I played little league with a lot of these guys, and when I transferred, some of my friends from Wood came, too. So I knew people here, but as soon as I got here, they took me right in. In, like, a week, I was part of the family. It was fast.
“I came at the end of last year and by the time football season started, I was one of them. This team is so close. Everyone really gets along and we love playing together. I think that’s why we’ve been winning.”
Rowe is certainly doing his part to help the Vikings.
A bruising blocker, Rowe’s biggest role on the team is leading the defense.
It helps that he has great players surrounding him, but Rowe certainly makes it tougher for opposing offensive players. He also does a fine job of being a role model for his younger teammates.
“I tried to be a leader from the day I started playing,” Rowe said. “They had a lot when I got here, so I bring the intensity. I’ll put my body on the line to make a tackle, a sack, I’ll play anywhere, I’m a team player and I try to be a role model on and off the field. They want me to play tackle, I’ll do it.
“I try to lead by example, but I’m really vocal, too. I think being vocal helps, but leading by example is the most important thing. If you’re yelling but not playing your hardest, your words don’t mean anything. I want my words to mean something, so I give it everything I have. I want them to look at how I’m playing and play like that.”
Rowe still has plenty of chances to shine. Northeast’s schedule lightens up a bit before the Vikings prepare for the postseason.
He’s also starting to look toward the future. He hopes it involves a long career around the game he loves.
“I definitely want to play college football,” Rowe said. “I want to study sports management, it’s a great opportunity to get a six-figure salary and stay close to the game. If I can’t be on the field, I’ll be happy in the front office. But hopefully I’m on the field.”
And if he’s on the field, he knows he can count on his family to pick him up.
Attend a game, and you’ll likely see Rowe’s family. He has plenty of fans who like to keep his spirits high.
“My mom, my dad, my uncle, aunts, cousins, all support me, football or not,” Rowe said. “They come to all of my games. They’re the loudest. I have a game on my birthday, Oct. 20, we got Bartram. I can’t wait for that, they’ll all be here.”
Rowe will put on a show for them. And he hopes it’s the start of a run to a championship.
“We can be the best team in the state if we play together and do what coach tells us,” said Rowe, who enjoys playing video games during his down time. “We can beat any team in Pennsylvania. Coach tells us all the time we can be special if we put in the work and be disciplined and that’s what we try to do.”