NSA players earn top spots

Published 8:21 pm Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s football team had a difficult season of fighting through injuries, but the 5-6 Saints managed to produce the same number of first team all-conference selections as last year’s 8-3 team.

Two-way star: Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior Noah Giles established himself firmly on both sides of the ball this season, leading to both offensive and defensive first team all-conference honors.  Photo by Janine DeMello

Two-way star: Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior Noah Giles established himself firmly on both sides of the ball this season, leading to both offensive and defensive first team all-conference honors.
Photo by Janine DeMello

NSA had five players recognized and filled six spots on the All-Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools first team. It was a group led by junior Noah Giles, selected as both a running back and a defensive back.

Joining him on the first team was senior defensive lineman David Gough, junior linebacker Cole Christiansen, senior offensive lineman Shay Wood and senior kick returner Addison Peak.

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The Saints also garnered two second-team selections and two honorable mentions.

Nansemond-Suffolk coach Lew Johnston explained what helped Giles earn his inaugural conference football honors, starting with his ability on offense.

“Obviously, he is a game-breaker on offense, with his speed,” he said. “All he needs is a step, and he’s gone.”

Giles had 92 carries for 1277 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading the team in the latter two categories. He led the team in receptions (19), receiving yards (267) and tied for the team-lead in receiving touchdowns (three). He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Johnston said Saints players selected Giles as offensive player of the year.

On defense, he led NSA with 16 pass break-ups. He also had an interception and 29 total tackles.

When promoting him to the fellow coaches who voted on all-conference selections, Johnston said, “I made the point that he was assigned to everybody’s best receiver.”

The coach said Giles’ athletic ability means his future is on offense, but added “his speed and athleticism makes him a very good cornerback, too.”

Senior David Gough made it his fourth straight year earning conference recognition as a defensive lineman and his third straight year earning it at the first-team level.

Johnston noted Gough has an explosive first step and was the top vote-getter among D-linemen.

“’The Disrupter’ was how I characterized him, and obviously the coaches agreed,” Johnston said.

Because of injuries to teammates, Gough played inside at tackle, outside on the end and also spent time at linebacker.

He had 36 total tackles this year, and 18 of them were tackles for losses. He also recorded five sacks.

Due to the prevalence of passing offenses in the conference, coaches agreed to select an additional receiver and one fewer running back to the first team this year. This contributed to Gough making only the second team at running back, despite rushing for 976 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Junior Cole Christiansen was the top vote-getter at the linebacker position, making the first team for the second straight year. He received honorable mention as a freshman.

“If David is The Disrupter, Cole Christiansen is The Terminator, because when the ball carrier gets there, it’s all over,” Johnston said.

Christiansen registered a team-high 129 total tackles, 90 of which were solo stops. Thirty of his tackles were for a loss, and he also led the team with nine sacks.

Johnston said Christiansen had to play inside linebacker most of the season, and when sophomore Ke’Shaun Moore got hurt, Christiansen moved outside.

Offensive linemen may end up with few direct statistics to their name, but senior Shay Wood, who made the second team last year, has some numbers that speak to his effect on the Saints.

Johnston said Wood is 6-feet-3-inches tall and weighs 295 pounds, adding he has had a great year, and much of it was evident by NSA’s successful rushing attack.

“We rushed for almost 3,300 yards, and a lot of that was right behind him,” Johnston said.

Senior offensive linemen Austin Babb and Camden Sutton received a second team honor and honorable mention, respectively.

Senior Addison Peak made the second team last year as a running back and received honorable mention as a sophomore. This year, he was highlighted as a kick returner, returning eight kickoffs for 283 yards and two touchdowns according to MaxPreps.com.

Referring to the touchdowns, Johnston said, “If you get one in a career, you’re considered lucky.”

The coach praised Peak for setting up the offense with great field position and being an emotional momentum shifter.

Senior tight end C.J. Patterson received honorable mention as a receiver.