McAninley embraces starting role

Published 12:57 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ian McAninley was voted Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week after throwing four touchdowns in Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s win over Norfolk Academy.

NSA has been on a roll this season. The team has gotten off to its best start under Coach Mike Biehl and has been ripping and running every week. Each week brings a new challenge.

Though pressure from the outside may mound up, the Saints stay even-keeled. Their biggest test came against a Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I school, Norfolk Academy. That game, NSA was able to come out with a 40-33 win on the road. McAninley made plays from the pocket that pushed NSA through to victory.

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“The offense was just clicking as a whole,” he said. “We were playing really well, and that just allowed us to take a step forward in the passing game.”

For McAninley, it was his second game where he threw four touchdown passes. He also threw four against Portsmouth Christian. It is McAninley’s first full year as a starter. In recent seasons, the junior had been backing up former standout Robby Tew. With him taking over, he is leading from behind center for an NSA team that has a chance to do something special this year.

McAninley is driven by his confidence and his teammates. Coach Mike Biehl has confidence in him and believes he can succeed. At the quarterback position, it is big to have the vote of confidence from the head coach, because it allows the player to be more confident in himself.

Tew had a big two-year stint with NSA, setting the record for total touchdowns at the school. If the Saints continue the roll that they are on this season, it is possible that when McAninley is a senior, he could accomplish those same things.

“Ian is an absolute pleasure to coach,” Biehl said. “He is a great teammate and a really good leader. He cares so much, and he really wants to do well. If I had a son that played football, I’d want him to be like Ian.”

The junior has the ability to not let mistakes faze him. He has made it a mission to get better each week he is out on the field. Biehl lets him know not to get down on himself after a turnover.

“If you play that position long enough, you’ll make mistakes,” Biehl said. But Ian is a great kid and leader for this team.”