Navigating Rivers – Chelsea’s Sandiford quarterbacks prep school to title game at Gillette

Shaquor Sandiford displayed his enormous athletic potential at a young age, excelling in Chelsea Pop Warner, Chelsea Little League, and the Chelsea Youth Basketball League.

But off the field, he looked for direction and guidance and a place where he could develop into a standout person to match the standout athlete he was becoming.

Josh Kraft and the staff at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea gave him the foundation and laid the path he so desperately needed to achieve success.

On Saturday afternoon, Shaquor Sandiford was front and center as the star junior quarterback on the Rivers School football team playing for a championship at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. While Rivers lost a heartbreaker to Pingree in the final seconds, Shaquor Sandiford knew that there would be other big games and other big goals to pursue.

Shaquor also knew how far he had traveled to get to Gillette – from the daily challenges of life on Grove Street to being a student at Rivers, one of the most prestigious prep schools anywhere.

“I’ve come a long way,” said Sandiford, the 16-year-old son of Sheanah McCarthy and the late Chris Sandiford.

Sandiford said he will forever be grateful to Josh Kraft, the former executive director of the Jordan Club, and the staff at the club for being such a positive influence in his development.

“I’ve been going to the Boys and Girls Club since I was seven years old,” said Sandiford. “Basically besides my parents, they taught me all the important things I needed to know to be a good person. A lot of people may know that I wasn’t the best kid, but Josh Kraft, Michelle Perez, and everybody there taught me right from wrong.”

Sandiford spent a lot of time inside the gymnasium at the Boys and Girls Club.

“At the club, John Montes helped me a lot because he had seen that I had potential in athletics and told me to pursue basketball,” recalled Sandiford. “The Boys and Girls Club was great to me. They showed me that I had the potential to be an athlete and a good person. My mother has also been there since Day 1, attending every game and every event. She’s been really influential.”

Kraft recalls the young Sandiford coming to the club and learning life lessons he could carry forth into his teenage years.

“Shaquor really grew up at the club and learned to be more responsible and respectful and we’re glad to see him succeeding,” said Kraft. “He’s developed into a great athlete and a great student, and more importantly a good person. I know he’ll be successful in the future.”

Sandiford played four seasons in the Chelsea Pop Warner organization, developing his football skills under coaches James Atkins and Jamie Delverde. He also shined on the diamond competing for a Little League team coached by Joe Stutto and Ricardo Mercado.

He spent his first two years of high school at Malden Catholic, playing wide receiver as a freshman. Last year he transferred to the Rivers School and reclassified as a sophomore.

Sandiford received All-Independent School League honorable mention as a quarterback in the 2009 season. The 2010 season was his breakout year as Sandiford, with the help of teammates such as Taariq Allen (who’s headed to Nebraska) and Benjamin Patrick, piloted Rivers to a perfect 8-0 record and a berth in the championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

Sandiford acknowledged the Kraft family for stepping forward and giving him and his teammates an experience they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives. The Krafts, who have a strong connection to Rivers (Josh Kraft is an alumnus of the school), graciously allowed the game to be played at Gillette Stadium after it had been originally scheduled for Endicott College.

“Playing at Gillette was amazing,” said Sandiford. “I wish we could have won the game, but it was still a great season.”

Monday night at the breakup awards banquet, Sandiford was named a captain of the 2011 Rivers team. “I hope to lead the team as well as our captains did this year,” said Sandiford. “Seeing them work hard has inspired me.”

The handsome, 6-foot-3-inch, 192-pound athlete also plays basketball at Rivers. He’s received letters from Penn State, Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, Boston College, and Duke.

“I’m really excited about the future,” said Sandiford. “I’m enjoying my time at Rivers. It’s a really good school and the teachers and coaches help you a lot. It’s a family oriented school and I feel I’m being prepared well for college.”

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