Highsmith Wins Offensive Award

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- North Carolina pledge Erik Highsmith's offensive accomplishments in Saturday's NCHSAA 3A state title game were enough to land him the Outstanding Offensive Player Award. However, they weren't enough to help West Craven win the championship as the Eagles lost, 35-7, to West Rowan.

"I tried to do all I could do to help us come back in the game," Highsmith said.

Highsmith, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound wide receiver, caught eight passes for 62 yards. He scored West Craven's lone touchdown – a three-yard reception with 18 seconds remaining in the game.

West Craven could never get its pass-oriented spread offense rolling. All but three of the Eagles' 11 drives were eight plays or less. Quarterback Brett Mooring, who has been selected to play in the Shrine Bowl, threw five interceptions – after having tossed eight interceptions all season long.

"They did a good job watching our film, knowing our plays," Highsmith said. "We couldn't get our passing game going. Brett didn't have a good day and it starts with him."

West Craven put together two score-threatening drives that spanned over 50 yards. Both, though, were cut short by a turnover.

"We drove like 60 yards and just didn't finish the drive," Highsmith said. "It was hard to get up after that."

West Rowan junior tailback Kevin Parks, who was awarded the game's Most Valuable Player, rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

On the first play from scrimmage, Parks set the tone for the game with an 81-yard touchdown run.

"When they scored on the first play of the game, that took a piece of our heart," Highsmith said.

Defensively, Highsmith started in West Craven's secondary, mostly lining up at cornerback. On the game he collected three tackles (two solo).

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UNC wide receivers coach Charlie Williams recently stopped by West Craven to check up on Highsmith.

"He mostly talked about how he liked my game against Rocky Mount," Highsmith said. "Then he just told me to keep my grades up, ace this SAT – I just took the SAT last Satuday – and stay in the weight room."

With UNC's receiving corps losing at least three members – and maybe as many as five – Williams has made Highsmith aware of the opportunity that exists next fall.

"He said I can have a chance to play," Highsmith said.

Williams and Highsmith have also begun to discuss setting up Highsmith's UNC official visit, as well as an in-home visit with Butch Davis.

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