A tasty triumph

The Vik­ings capped off a me­diocre sea­son with a big win on Thanks­giv­ing, feast­ing upon Cent­ral for their sev­enth con­sec­ut­ive Tur­key Day vic­tory.

NE # 16 - Shimeek Carter, RB/DB

It’s been a rough sea­son for the North­east High School foot­ball team. After mak­ing school his­tory last year — claim­ing their first Pub­lic League title since 1983 — the de­fend­ing cham­pi­on Vik­ings en­dured a roller-coast­er ride of tri­umphs and heart­breaks. 

North­east fin­ished the sea­son 3-3 in league play and 7-5 over­all. They struggled against di­vi­sion­al foes like Frank­ford and Wash­ing­ton and were ejec­ted in the first round of the post­season upon los­ing to Cent­ral High.

On Thanks­giv­ing Day, the Vik­ings got a second chance. 

And they did not dis­ap­point.  

Once again fa­cing the mighty Lan­cers — who fin­ished first in the Sil­ver Di­vi­sion, go­ing un­defeated in league play and 8-3 over­all — North­east feasted upon a little re­venge on Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing, claim­ing a 27-20 vic­tory. North­east now leads the series 55-51-10 and ex­ten­ded its Thanks­giv­ing streak to sev­en con­sec­ut­ive wins. 

“It feels real good. We got a good win,” said ju­ni­or run­ning back Shimeek Carter, who led the Vik­ings in rush­ing with 98 yards on Thanks­giv­ing. “The team came to­geth­er. We had a hor­rible sea­son, a hor­rible sea­son as a team, but today we just came in and fought hard and worked to­geth­er like a fam­ily, like we should be.”

Swarms of alumni packed Charlie Mar­tin Me­mori­al Sta­di­um on Thursday’s balmy morn­ing. Both sides were cheered by fans wav­ing homemade signs; cheer­lead­ers per­formed along­side their school march­ing bands, adding to the fest­ive at­mo­sphere. 

North­east’s Daquan White wasted no time put­ting his squad on the score­board. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound seni­or scored back to back touch­downs, giv­ing North­east a hefty 12-0 lead. Seni­or kick­er Howard Lynn ad­ded an ex­tra point, mak­ing it 13-0. 

Cent­ral re­tali­ated quickly, cour­tesy of scores from Eric Thomas and Rich Drayton. By half­time, North­east led, 13-12. 

After an ugly third quarter marred by turnovers, the Vik­ings took con­trol of the game, scor­ing two touch­downs with­in two minutes. Carter rushed for the first. Seni­or wide re­ceiv­er Chris Gary caught a scor­ing pass for the oth­er. Both ex­tra-point kicks were good. 

With the score 27-12, Cent­ral scored on a touch­down by seni­or quar­ter­back Ry­an Dy­dak, who then con­nec­ted with Drayton for a two-point con­ver­sion. 

Fi­nal score: North­east, 27; Cent­ral, 20. 

“We had a lot of ups and downs. In the long run, when you look back on it and real­ize, we were a pretty good team,” said North­east coach Chris Ri­ley. “We nev­er got over the hill to be­come a great team, which I think they could have. They’re a good team and that’s why they fin­ished the year with this win.”

North­east quar­ter­back Daquan Bo­han­nan was al­most per­fect on the day, con­nect­ing on six of eight passes for 136 yards and two touch­downs. Cent­ral’s toss­er, Dy­dak, went 10-for-19 for 101 yards and one TD. 

“Today, we were ready to win. We knew that we were go­ing to win so we just came out as a team and got the win for our seni­ors,” said Carter. “This is the last game they’ll play at Charles Mar­tin Me­mori­al Sta­di­um. 

“It feels real good to end it on a win be­cause I’m close with all of them (seni­ors),” Carter ad­ded. “I feel so close to this group right here. They’re like fam­ily, so I guess that’s why I’m spend­ing Thanks­giv­ing Day with them.”

Last week’s con­test was Carter’s first full game since suf­fer­ing a shoulder in­jury dur­ing the Vik­ings’ Oct. 7 game against Ger­man­town. Carter was mak­ing a tackle when he severely strained the nerves in his neck and shoulder. He was forced to the side­lines and sel­dom con­trib­uted dur­ing North­east’s second half of the sea­son. 

“The doc­tor cleared me, so I’m good to play,” said Carter. “Today I had fresh legs, a fresh body. I came out and played hard, got a touch­down and some key first downs. It was good.”

Des­pite lim­ited play­ing time, Carter put to­geth­er some im­press­ive num­bers this sea­son. He led his team in rush­ing with 576 yards. He also was the second-highest scorer on his team with eight touch­downs. 

“Zone run­ning — he’s one of the best in the city,” said Ri­ley. “He’s low to the ground, a great, lean kid. We al­ways say he’s like a ski­er out there. He has wide-open vis­ion. He sees every hole through the field and can zip through.”

A three-year varsity play­er, Carter will re­turn as a seni­or next sea­son and try to guide the Vik­ings back to Pub­lic League glory. In the mean­time, he can en­joy the sweet taste of vic­tory with yet an­oth­er Thanks­giv­ing Day tri­umph. 

“Now I get to en­joy a tur­key din­ner in South Philly with my fam­ily and have fun today,” said Carter. “I can just go home with a smile on my face. I’ll have good dreams to­night about this game. It’s a good feel­ing.” •• 

Ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­erkov@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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