Christiansen, Giles take top state honors
Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015
The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy football team received appropriate state-level recognition after a 2015 season in which it dominated the competition at the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III level on the way to winning the state championship.
NSA senior linebacker Cole Christiansen was named VISAA Division III state Defensive Player of the Year, senior running back Noah Giles was named state Offensive Player of the Year, and the Saints garnered 12 all-state selections, including seven on the first team.
“To me, you win the state in your division, you should reap some of the benefits,” Nansemond-Suffolk coach Lew Johnston said. Reflecting on the Saints’ haul of accolades, he added, “I thought that was very fair. Every kid that got nominated made it on the team.”
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Johnston noted that at first, coaches around the division began concluding the all-state voting meeting after having chosen a Coach of the Year but without having chosen any Players of the Year. They told him they did not ordinarily have such player honors, but he convinced them to do them this year.
It was a short process.
“The coach from North Cross (School) said, ‘I nominate Noah Giles for offense and Cole Christiansen for defense,’” Johnston said. “It was unanimous, no questions asked, done deal.”
Christiansen finished the year with 126 total tackles, including 29 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, six caused fumbles and three interceptions. His high school career tackle total reached 433, a Nansemond-Suffolk school record and possibly a conference record, as well.
“I was very excited,” Christiansen said of getting the top state defensive honor. “Definitely a good way to close out my career.”
Giles ended up carrying the ball 215 times this season for 2,042 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 9.5 yards a carry and 170.2 yards per game. He also broke NSA’s regular season rushing record that had stood for 35 years.
“It was just a blessing because I’ve been working hard,” Giles said of receiving the top state offensive award. “Most of it’s my linemen, to be honest. They’ve been giving me great holes.”
Of his two top honorees, Johnston said, “It was obvious, the kids just were outstanding on their side of the ball.”
Christiansen made the all-state first team at linebacker, Giles made it at running back, and they were joined by senior offensive lineman Ben Anderson, senior tight end Eric Teumer, senior defensive lineman Connor King, junior linebacker KeShaun Moore and sophomore defensive back Erek Smith.
Anderson helped facilitate the Saints’ powerful running attack, which averaged 357 yards a game.
“Ben just did a great job for us, technical-wise; he worked very hard on his technique,” Johnston said.
Teumer was critical to making NSA’s Wing-T offense work.
“We’re going to run behind that tight end 70, 75 percent of the time,” Johnston said. “I think it would be reasonable to say he was a unanimous selection for first team tight end.”
Connor King finished the year with 56 total tackles, including 22 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks.
“He was just unblockable,” Johnston said. “He’s so quick, he’s so explosive off the line.”
The coach was excited to see KeShaun Moore join the first team in recognition of his role in bolstering the Saints’ defense with 80 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and four sacks.
Erek Smith only played about seven games this season before being sidelined due to injury, but he still managed to record three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 22 total tackles.
“He was covering everybody’s best wide receiver by midseason,” Johnston said.
NSA players making the all-state second team included junior offensive lineman Edwards Morgan, senior linebacker Daniel Griffith and senior punt returner Noah Serianni.
Senior defensive lineman Jack Johnson received honorable mention, along with Serianni at the wide receiver position.