North Topsail Police tell WNCT that Southwest Onslow High School quarterback Shak Pershey went missing while swimming with some friends around 7 p.m.
The Coast Guard and a Marine Corps helicopter were called in, but rough seas led them to suspend their water and air search after two hours.
Police continued scouring the area and found Pershey's body around 2 a.m. Friday morning off North Topsail Beach.
The assistant superintendent at Southwest Onslow says about a dozen grief counselors are on-hand for students.
As starting quarterback, Pershey led his team to win the state championship in December. He would have graduated June 11.