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HOUSTON - Game planning to stop Oghenemine Imarah is something Bridgeland coach David Raffield is glad he doesn't have to concern himself with.
"He would be a nightmare to game plan for," Raffield said with a smile and laugh following a 29-17 victory for Bridgeland on Thursday night against Cypress Ranch. "He's so incredibly athletic at the high school level."
Better known as "Mine" to his friends, the 6-foot-2, senior defensive end has been a wrecking force to opposing offensive lines through five games this season.
Entering Thursday's District 16-6A showdown against Cypress Ranch, Imarah led the district with 4.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He ranked 10th with 26 total tackles.
"Double-team, triple-team, it doesn't matter, they can try and do it," Imarah said. "With double teams we just work on our hands and feet. With pass protection, I work straight hands. I make sure I use my hips because if I don't I'm not going anywhere."
@BridgelandFB senior DE @mine_imarah is a problem. Misses sack, falls down and gets back up and chases down DJ Ciers for the tackle. Hey @JJWatt what do you think? #txhsfb @KPRC2RandyMc @overtime @houseofhighligh @MaxPreps @bm1157 @KPRC2Ari @CyFairISD @ray_zepeda1 pic.twitter.com/h6RBCHW3kC
— vypehouston (@vypehouston)
October 23, 2020
The unanimous first-team, all-district defensive end from a year ago added to his already impressive numbers. Imarah tacked on eight more tackles - pushing his season total to 34 - 2.5 tackles for loss (13 for the season) and 2.5 sacks (7.0).
"It's not good enough," Imarah said. "We're not there yet. We have a goal to achieve and I have a goal to achieve myself. Honestly, I don't think I'm there yet. So, I'm going to keep grinding, do my job and make sure we win all our games."
Imarah has played on varsity at Bridgeland since his sophomore season.
Last week, Imarah surpassed the 100-tackle mark for his career and has shown improvement in every season. In his first year, Imarah finished with just half a sack - he currently has 7.0 through just five games, which has already surpassed his total of five from a year ago.
Imarah is on pace to best every single-season mark he has posted in his time at Bridgeland.
"No questions asked, I feel like I'm underrated," Imarah said. "I'm not troubled by it at all because they are going to see. If we keep winning like this they are going to see."
Currently as it stands, Imarah, who Raffield said put on some good weight in the offseason to push him closer to 230 pounds on the line, has just one offer from McMurry University from the beginning of September.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually every junior camp that Imarah would have attended got cancelled. The NCAA recruiting dead period has been extended to the end of the calendar year. But all of that isn't going to stand in Imarah's way.
"I won't lie it did affect my recruiting a little bit but I'm not worried about it," Imarah said. "I just need to do my job, make sure I make plays and I look good. It'll come to me."
Raffield added: "I think when they see him now and watch the tape [recruiters] are like 'that's a man-child'. So I imagine will come rolling in."
Being good on the field is not the only thing that recruiters will look at.
Imarah, who boasts a 3.5 GPA at Bridgeland High School, is good academically Raffield said and brings a great personality to the locker room.
"His brother [Roroghene Imarah] plays on the team, he has great fan support from his family and he's a great teammate," he said. "Our kids love each other. The whole team does, so it's pretty cool."
When Imarah isn't throwing around opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks, he is doing the same to foes on the wrestling mat.
Last year, Imarah entered the 10-6A District Tournament with a 12-8 mark. He ended up making it to the third-place match but fell short. He did earn a bid to the Region III-6A Tournament in the 285-pound weight class and finished fifth overall just missing out on the UIL State Wrestling Tournament.
He has seen the benefits carry over from the mat to the field.
"I'm trying to be the best tackle I can be and with people like DJ [Ciers] who can move around, if I don't sit on my feet, tackle with my hips, eyes on eyes, I wouldn't be able to do anything. That's why I do wrestling, you tackle every time."
When you mention football and wrestling in the same breath in Houston, the name Chidozie Nwankwo naturally comes up.
The Foster High School grad, who now starts for the University of Houston football team, excelled in both areas - winning the Class 5A 285-pound State Championship last year, capping an illustrious career.
"Chidoze is a dawg, I respect him so much," Imarah said with a smile. "I feel like he's doing great right now. He probably had the same mentality as me. Wrestling is helping me play football, so I'm going to keep wrestling. I'm going to be the best wrestler and football player I can be."
The last conversation Imarah remembers having with Nwankwo in the spring came during the district meets. As Imarah tells it, Nwankwo was walking down the hall with his headphones on as he got in the zone.
"Everybody in the whole hallway backed away because he had that presence," Imarah said. "I said 'Big dawg, you good?'. He said 'I'm always good.'
"That stuck with me. Right now I'm always good too no matter what's going on."
What a night it was as the VYPE Awards were held virtually on Sunday. VYPE handed out awards to the top athletes in his and her respective sports.
Teams and coaches were also recognized. Here are the awards for Public School Boys Wrestling.
TEAM OF THE YEAR: Katy TigersCOACH OF THE YEAR: Erik Spjut, College ParkWRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Chidozie Nwankwo, Foster
Chidozie Nwankwo finished his high school career with one last gold. He won the Class 5A, 285-pound State Championship, capping off his stellar career. His final record is 102-5. He will play college football at UH.
To watch the show in its entirety, CLICK HERE
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