Christiansen leads NSA’s All-TCIS honorees

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior Cole Christiansen tackles a player, forcing a fumble. Tackling was just one of his skills that led to his being named the 2015 TCIS football Player of the Year. (Janine DeMello photo)

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior Cole Christiansen tackles a player, forcing a fumble. Tackling was just one of his skills that led to his being named the 2015 TCIS football Player of the Year. (Janine DeMello photo)

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy football team that went undefeated this year in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools and won the VISAA Division III state championship was honored with 20 all-conference selections, and Saints senior Cole Christiansen was named TCIS football Player of the Year.

Christiansen said he was excited when he heard that the coaches around the conference had chosen him for the top player honor.

“I actually really wasn’t expecting it because there were a ton of good athletes in TCIS this year,” he said. “Coach J told me, and I got a big old smile on my face. I was very happy.”

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NSA coach Lew Johnston, or Coach J, said he was excited about Christiansen’s honor. The two nominations for the Player of the Year award were Christiansen and Saints senior running back Noah Giles. Coaches at the voting meeting were not allowed to vote for their own players.

“I was very glad that I didn’t have to vote,” Johnston said. “Certainly the two best players in the conference were our two.”

Christiansen recorded 126 total tackles this season, 29 of them for a loss, 13 sacks and three interceptions. His tackle tally this season brought his high school career total to 433, an NSA school record and possibly a TCIS record.

To win the top player accolade, “I think the thing that carried Cole is I did hear a couple coaches saying, ‘You know, he did such a good job on offense, too,’” Johnston said.

As a running back, Christiansen had 58 carries for 446 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

“I played a ton more offense than I ever have,” Christiansen said. “I actually got second team running back, which also came out of nowhere, I thought. And I blocked a few punts, and so special teams was in there, too. I think versatility was what did it, I guess.”

Christiansen made the All-TCIS first team as a linebacker, and Saints also receiving first-team accolades included Giles, senior offensive lineman Ben Anderson, senior kick returner Noah Serianni and sophomore defensive back Erek Smith.

Johnston said he was proud of his players for making the first-team cut, and he thought they should have had more company given Nansemond-Suffolk’s level of dominance this year in the conference.

The Saints not only went 4-0 in the TCIS but also defeated those opponents by an average of 26.3 points.

Giles was a huge part of NSA’s success throughout the season, finishing with 215 carries for 2,042 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.

He finished the regular season with more than 1,800 yards, breaking the Saints’ regular season rushing record of 1,775 yards that had been held by Danny Holly since 1980.

Ben Anderson helped facilitate a Nansemond-Suffolk offense that averaged almost 400 yards a game — 357 yards on the ground — and 44 points a game.

Noah Serianni averaged 26 yards per punt return and scored two touchdowns on returns.

Had there been an option to vote for a utility player, Serianni would have been a good choice as he also had 30 carries for 335 yards and five touchdowns, a team-high 12 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns, he passed for 46 yards and a score and also caught two interceptions on defense.

Erek Smith registered three interceptions and nine pass breakups before being sidelined due to injury, and Johnston said he was pleased with Smith’s selection “since he only played about seven games.”

“He also was always assigned to the opponents’ best receiver,” Johnston said. “He was our ‘lockdown’ corner.”

Saints making the All-TCIS second team included junior offensive lineman Edwards Morgan, senior running back Graham Moore, senior defensive linemen Jack Johnson and Connor King, junior linebacker KeShaun Moore, senior defensive back Reed Browne, receiver Noah Serianni and running back Cole Christiansen.

NSA senior receiver Eric Teumer, senior defensive lineman Trent Taylor, senior linebacker Daniel Griffith, senior defensive back Dominick Claxton, offensive lineman Jack Johnson, place kicker Ben Anderson and punter Graham Moore received honorable mention.