HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Ridge View star grows into his game

Ntiasagwe has eyes on college career

ainelson@thestate.comDecember 8, 2012 

  • NORTH-SOUTH ALL-STAR GAME WHAT: 64th annual SCADA North-South All-Star high school football game WHEN: 12:30 p.m. WHERE: Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, Myrtle Beach

Though Obinna Ntiasagwe chose not to follow in his father’s footsteps, he may have gotten a good bit of his father’s athletic skill.

The elder Ntiasagwe played professional soccer in Nigeria for 10 years, but when Obinna chose a sport in middle school, he first tried basketball before deciding on football — because it looked exciting on TV.

Five years after he first tried out, Obinna Ntiasagwe now is representing Ridge View in the SCADA North-South All-Star game today at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach.

This might never have happened if Ntiasagwe had quit as he had planned.

“It wasn’t long after I had tried out, I saw a guy that was already on the team, and he was walking around in a neck brace,” he said. “So, I said I wasn’t going to play, but my mom wouldn’t let me walk away from it.”

Instead, Ntiasagwe made varsity as a freshman and earned the starting nose guard position as a sophomore.

“We noticed him because of his toughness and athletic ability, and then all of a sudden, he was a nose guard,” coach Raymond Jennings said.

Jennings noted that, at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Ntiasagwe is slightly undersized for the position. But on the field, it never mattered.

“His biggest asset is just him running to the ball,” Jennings said. “You look up on film, and he’s downfield every time.”

Along with teammate Curtis Bey, who also was tapped for the Shrine Bowl, and a strong group of seniors, Ntiasagwe helped the Blazers to a 6-5 record this season, the best in his four years.

“It’s just exciting for us,” Jennings said. “This group of seniors really saved our program, and it’s nice to see them get some recognition.”

Added Ntiasagwe: “A lot of us have been together since middle school on the same team. We realized (senior leadership) was what this team needed. We took that opportunity to have these kids look up to us.”

An honor student in a medical careers magnet program, Ntiasagwe approached football as an opportunity to obtain a free education — but also as a chance to have fun.

Also the team’s kicker and punter, Ntiasagwe’s favorite aspect of the game is tackling — he finished the season as the team’s second-leading tackler. He will look to get plenty of action in this last high school game.

With the academic credentials to attend his school of choice, and a handful of scholarship offers — Newberry, Presbyterian and VMI among them — already on the table, Saturday’s game is about having fun and representing his team, Ntiasagwe said.

“I want to display how talented we are and how much we love the game,” he said.

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