By LESLIE COLLINS
October 3, 2012
More people are noticing the Northeast High School varsity football team this year.
Their current standing is 3-2.
“That’s saying a lot for the program from where it used to be,” said NEHS Head Varsity Coach Terry McCray. “We won one game last year and zero games the year before that. They’re not used to winning here, and just to have three wins is big for the morale of the team.”
Thirty-one players are on the team this year, compared to about 18 last year, he said.
These Northeast Vikings players are dedicated and “play hard,” he said.
“Our biggest strength is that we’re fast,” McCray said.
During the summer, McCray introduced a weight lifting program, which had been non-existent in the past. Building strength is an area that players need to improve on and it’s an area that’s holding Northeast back from contending for a state championship, he said. The Vikings will need at least two to three more years to catch up in that regard, he said.
Three seniors stand out this year and include Kendall Gilmore, Cornell Duley and Jamel Tunley. All three are excellent leaders, he said.
Duley is thriving as the quarterback and McCray called Tunley his “utility player.”
“He plays all the positions,” McCray said of Tunley.
That includes linebacker, running back, tight end, fullback, middle linebacker and safety.
Wright has improved this year and remained dedicated to the summer weight lifting program. He hasn’t missed a practice yet.
“He’s coming out as a leader,” McCray said.
“As a coach, what I try to instill is dedication, commitment and discipline,” he said.
McCray teaches his players lessons for on and off the field. One value he stresses is the importance of showing up on time, whether it’s for practice, to class or for a job.
“I’m trying to teach them life lessons through the game of football,” he said. “Some of our inner city kids are losing their way because they have no guidance; if I can say something to touch one of them, then I’ve done my job and they can go on to be successful in whatever they choose to do because they know that they’ve done hard work.
“That’s what I love about coaching is just being with the kids every day and teaching them something good.”
The Northeast Vikings are beginning to shake the “losing mentality.”
“What I always tell the kids is this is the new Northeast – we’re not a rag-tag program anymore.”
This season, the Vikings beat Lincoln College Prep 14-6, a team that had won the Interscholastic League Championships eight years in a row.
“Nobody could remember the last time that we beat them,” McCray said. “We’re on a different track. We have higher expectations and high goals and we’re going to obtain them.”
NEHS v. Wentworth Military Academy: 47-12
NEHS v. African-Centered College Prep: 48-0
NEHS v. Lincoln College Prep: 14-6
Upcoming home games:
(Games will be played at the District Stadium at 63rd & Meyer)
Oct. 4 @ 7 p.m. v. Central High School
Oct. 12 (Homecoming) @ 7 p.m. v. East High