By Jordyn J. Bennett
CHESTER, Penn. — The city of Chester gets more jeers than cheers from the media and surrounding areas for its community interaction, normally only being credited for its volatile crimes and economic troubles. But when it’s time to put on for their own: Chester supports Chester.
Chester High School football senior quarterback Isaiah Freeman has been an absolute SPECIMEN this season, leading the boys off of #Exit6 to a 6-0 record. Freeman, in what he told PennLive was his “best game ever,” reached the end zone five times, totaling 352 all-purpose yards. He was unstoppable in every facet of the offense, earning 224 yards and three touchdowns passing, and capturing the remaining 128 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
His performance got him on the radar of PennLive, making him a candidate for this week’s Pa. high school football player of the week fan vote. The senior won the honor with 22,815 votes — around 30 percent of the approximate 76,000 votes, which was a new record for PennLive.
Freeman credits his city, coaches and school for his selection.
“It was awesome to see,” Freeman said. “A lot of people, not only from the city of Chester, but friend’s friends, friend’s family, my parents’ friends, my grandmother (and) her friends. It’s crazy to see a lot of people who don’t know me voting. It was an awesome experience.”
Not always is that the story.
If you look at the headlines — and obituaries — you’d never know that there is more love than hate in Chester. Freeman’s case is no anomaly, as he’s doing exactly what the city does best: uplift each other in the time of need.
“You got everybody supporting you as if you’re family, blood, so it’s a crazy experience,” Freeman said. “You got a hundred people — hundreds of people, hundreds of people and hundreds of people — supporting you, caring for you like you’re one of theirs. That’s something where you don’t get a lot of other places.”
Chester’s population is only slightly less than 34,000 people, so it’d be foolish to think that those votes came solely from the confines of the city. Freeman knows that it wasn’t just people who know him — there are people out there who have no idea who he is personally, but recognized that he’s a baller.
“I didn’t always have the best talent, but knowing that I came a long way and overcame a lot of adversity is the thing (that means the most),” he said.
As much as Freeman appreciates the statewide fandom, it’s all about Chester, and there is nothing bigger than a Chester High homecoming, which is this weekend.
The Clippers’ homecoming is the GHOE (the nickname of North Carolina A&T’s renowned celebration) of inner-city schools’ alumni and citizens returning to their roots. Food, music, and laughter, if NC A&T is the mecca for HBCUs, Chester is that for hoods across America.
In years past, CHS football hasn’t been what people came to see for homecoming. But at 6-0 and playing a winless Penn Wood High School (Lansdowne), Freeman is excited to be a part of the festivities and put on a show for anyone who decides to hop off of exit 6.
“I’m pumped for homecoming. It’s my last one...I’m definitely ready. Hopefully we come out here and go 7-0, something we haven’t done in a while.”