All-campus champs play in national flag football tournament

CULLOWHEE – While many of Western Carolina University’s students were enjoying the luxuries of sleeping late and home-cooked food over winter break, the seven members of Western’s men’s all-campus champion intramural flag football team were vying for the national championship.

SMC, which stands for Smoky Mountain Conference, a name selected because the majority of the players on the team played high school football in Western North Carolina, earned the right to play in the 26th annual national championship tournament in New Orleans.

A total of 50 teams from across the country participated in the tournament. SMC finished in the “Sweet 16.”

“We were satisfied with our performance, and I feel that we set the bar high for future intramural teams. I only wish that we could have done better,” said team captain Jacob Nelms of Robbinsville.

Team member Michael Watson of Bryson City was named a second tournament team “All American.”

“I was proud to receive this nomination. I certainly was not expecting it. But my main concern was for the team’s performance,” said Watson.

In addition to Nelms and Watson, members of SMC are Jeff Baxter of Andrews, Jake Day of Sylva, Derrick Gaddis of Murphy, Jake Hunter of Brevard and Jake Setzer of Hayesville.