The Richmond Register

Sports

January 3, 2014

Southern’s Harris named First-Team All-State

RICHMOND — Madison Southern junior running back Damien Harris continues to pick up post-season awards following his tremendous junior season for the Eagles.

On Thursday, Harris was selected First Team All-State by the Associated Press.

Harris is joined in the first-team backfield by Conner quarterback Drew Barker and running backs Dylan Byrd of Louisville DeSales and Elijah Bell of Henry Clay.

Bowling Green wide receiver Nacarius Fant — who has committed to Western Kentucky — was selected as the state’s 2014 Mr. Football.

Last month, Harris picked up the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year Award, given to the best football player in each state each year.

Harris put up record-setting numbers during the 2013 season.

He scored an amazing 45 touchdowns — 42 rushing, one receiving and two on special teams.

The 42 rushing touchdowns ties him for fourth on the all-time Kentucky single-season list. The 45 total touchdowns ties him for sixth all-time for a single season.

Harris scored 274 points on the year, which tied him for 10th on the all-time points in a single season list. His average of 218 yards per game ranks 10th all-time for a single season.

And with yet another season to play, Harris ranks 10th in Kentucky history with 97 career touchdowns.

Harris is rated as the top running back prospect and the number five overall prospect in the class of 2015 by both ESPN and Rivals.com.

Bowling Green WR Fant is AP’s Player of the Year

The most significant number for Nacarius Fant in a season of eye-popping statistics was rather small: three, as in consecutive Class 5A state championships for Bowling Green.

The Purples (14-0) posted other notable numbers thanks to the 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior wide receiver. Bowling Green’s 49-14 title-game victory over Pulaski County capped a third straight unbeaten season and extended its winning streak to 44 games, third longest in KHSAA history.

Fant caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in the championship as the Purples overcame a 14-0 deficit with 49 unanswered points. He finished with 1,699 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns on 83 catches.

Figure in 555 combined return yards, and it adds up to Fant’s selection as Kentucky’s Mr. Football by members of The Associated Press.

“It was just about being a leader and getting younger players involved,” said Fant, who credits quarterback Devin Hayes for making him look good.

“He just throws the ball to a spot and you just have to be there. He’s been with this team since sophomore year, and we’ve always worked on our timing.”

Fant’s stellar career is also the result of his own homework.

Admittedly smaller and slower than opposing defenders, he excelled by running precise routes for Hayes and creating separation. This season yielded a nearly 50 percent yardage increase with five more TDs and 13 more receptions.

Bowling Green coach Kevin Wallace also noted that Fant played his best in big games.

“When you consider the competition we play and the numbers he has put up, he was always better against better competition,” Wallace said. “He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest player, but he could make people miss. He’s one of the best I’ve ever coached and he’s a big reason we’ve won three straight state titles.”

Fant also closes his career with a lofty place in the KHSAA record books.

His career totals of 227 receptions for 4,773 yards and 52 TDs respectively rank tied for fifth, alone in third and tied for fourth all-time. This year’s receiving yards and touchdowns both rank sixth.

Bowling Green went 53-3 with Fant and earned another championship trophy at Western Kentucky’s Houchens-Smith Stadium, a fitting achievement and venue for him on several levels. He lives just minutes from the campus and will continue his career there next season after verbally committing to play for the Hilltoppers last summer.

Fant will join his cousin George, a 6-6 forward on WKU’s basketball team. He’ll arrive as one of the state’s most decorated players, most satisfied by ending his high school career on a roll as a three-time champion.

“We knew we had the target on our backs because of the streak, but the goal was winning the state title,” Fant said. “Everybody had to make plays, and we stuck together to pull out the win.”

 

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