Purvis, West represent Davie in East-West game

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

For just the fourth time in Davie football history, a Davie duo participated in the East-West All-Star Game in the same year.

Willie Purvis and Brodie Smith played for the West in the 75th matchup between top players in the state. The game was held at Grimsley on July 19. The East won 14-0.

The players arrived at Grimsley on July 14 and were treated like celebrities for six days.

“It was an amazing experience,” Smith said. “They had us breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. It’s just great practicing with the best players in the state, and then playing against the best players from the eastern part of the state. We went to a Dash (baseball) game. We went to see a Carolina Cobras arena game. We went to the East-West men’s basketball game. We had a banquet.”

Smith had 65 catches for 946 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior last fall. He became one of the top receivers in Davie annals, leaving the black and orange with three major rankings: tied for fifth in career TD catches with 17, sixth in career receiving yards with 1597 and seventh in career receptions with 113.

It was fitting that he closed his prep career with a team-high three catches in the all-star game. Those grabs resulted in 37 yards, which accounted for 30 percent of West’s offense in a game that was dominated by the defenses. That the defenses took turns bodyslamming the other offense was not a surprise; the East-West games are generally low-scoring struggles as there’s only a few days to learn a new playbook.

“I think it’s easier for the defense to learn the playbook,” Smith said. “On offense you’ve got to learn a ton of different routes.”

Then there was Purvis, who started for Davie’s varsity at cornerback for three years. He started for the West at corner, showed why he’s headed for a Division-II career and was among the West’s tackle leaders, if not the leader.

“Willie started at corner and played the most snaps of the corners,” Davie defensive coordinator Blaine Nicholson said. “He probably led the team in tackles because they were trying to get it out on the perimeter a bunch. He had at least two PBUs (pass breakups), he was targeted a couple of times and he cut off the route multiple times. They did a lot of outside runs and bubble passes, and he came up and fit the run really, really well.”

While Purvis’ first three years at Davie were hindered by injuries, the football gods finally smiled on him as a senior, and he took full advantage – on and off the field.

“He was a great leader,” Nicholson said. “Last year it was like having a coach on the field. He really did a lot for the young guys last year. He’s a very selfless and humble guy, and he really coached those guys up.”

Purvis and Smith have been teammates for 12 years – from third grade at Shady Grove to Ellis to Davie – and now they’re going to be roommates and teammates on the college level at Emory & Henry.

“My dad played college football. Our whole family is big on football,” Smith said. “I remember when I was in elementary school, the teacher would ask what we wanted to do in the future, what is your dream, and I would say play college football. It’s always been a dream for me since I was a young child. For it to finally become real, it’s crazy that it’s really happening.”

How did Emory & Henry win your heart?

“They texted me throughout the season,” Smith said. “Every single Friday morning, their head coach would call me and one of the coaches would wish me luck. I wanted to go where you’re wanted most, and I felt like I was wanted most there. Plus, the campus (in Emory, Va.) is beautiful and the coaches are great. It’s a strong brotherhood.”

“I think it’s going to be a good fit for both of those guys,” Nicholson said.

Notes: The other Davie duos to appear in the same East-West game were Edgar Osborne and Randall Ward in 1967, Chris Reynolds/James Boyle in 2017 and Avery Taylor/Kristian Lyons in 2021. … The West only managed 123 total yards, averaged 2.7 yards per play and committed three turnovers. The East fumbled five times but only lost one. … The game was scoreless until the 1:20 mark of the second quarter, when the East scored on a 47-yard catch-and-run. The other East touchdown came on an eight-play drive that followed a West fumble. … The East-West Football Game has always been played in July, but this was likely the last summer game of the series. The East-West game for the next senior class will be played in December. It is scheduled for the weekend after the NCHSAA state championships.