Lustre Student Makes Giant Strides In First Football Season
Lustre Christian School student Ifeanyi Aniobi didn’t quite know what to expect when he decided to give the sport of football a try this fall. Aniobi, who is from Nigeria, said he never played organized football before but had some experience with rugby and tag football.
“I watched football, so I know what it was like,” he said during an interview last week.
The start of his football journey began last spring when coaches from Wolf Point visited Lustre and encouraged students to play the sport for the Wolves. Aniobi received more encouragement from Wolf Point athletes during last track season.
He then attended a summer camp and both he and his brother, Emeka, joined the team. Ifeanyi’s early play wasn’t anything to get excited about for the program.
“I kind of knew what I was doing starting the third of fourth game,” the senior said. “Before that, it was definitely a struggle.”
He played at defensive end at the beginning, but he was then moved to a more comfortable nose tackle position.
“It was simple. You get off the ball as fast as you can,” he explained the position.
The result was Aniobi playing a key role on Wolf Point’s defensive line for the rest of the campaign.
“We worked with him a little bit,” Wolf Point’s All-Conference lineman Lennoxx Lilley said. “He got better every day.”
Wolf Point Coach Anthony Red Cloud explained, “He improved a lot. By the end of the year, he was one of the reasons that we beat Conrad.”
It wasn’t only his athleticism that was a benefit for the Wolves, but he also provided a great attitude for the squad.
“He plays with a lot of heart and passion,” Red Cloud said. “He loved playing and wanted everybody to give everything that they had.”
Lilley explained, “If it wasn’t for him, our energy would be lacking.”
Michael Bell, a junior, agreed that Aniobi’s spirit was important for the Wolves. “He brought the energy to the team.”
Aniobi said the highlight of the season was a home upset victory over Conrad.
“No one thought we could beat them and we did,” he said. “We played well as a team.”
The nose tackle even recovered a fumble in the contest. One small mistake was that he was so excited after the fumble recovery that he spiked the ball and was called for a penalty.
“We didn’t care. He was happy,” Lilley remembered.
Another highlight for the Lustre student was the friendships he developed on the team.
“I made a lot of friendships. I’m really proud about that,” he said.
He stresses that the experience was made possible because people were willing to drive him back and forth to practices. He mentioned Lustre staff members, teammate Michael Bell and the Unruh family for providing support. He is extremely grateful that assistant coach Scott Vandall and Andrea Vandall were willing to drive him back to Lustre most nights.
“I want to express my thanks to the Vandalls and the other coaches,” Aniobi said. “Everybody was a huge help. I wasn’t ever tired, I was so happy that somebody was willing to take me home.”
He also appreciated that fans from Lustre came to support him during football games. After playing at the JV level last year, Aniobi is hopeful to play varsity basketball in front of those fans this winter.
“That’s another thing I’m working on,” he said.
He will cap his high school athletic career by competing in track again during the spring. He ran in sprints for last season’s team.
After high school, he is planning to attend a small college in Oklahoma and study business administration.