As AP all-state junior quarterback Holton Ahlers picked up the purple and gold hat on Monday to announce he was committing to East Carolina, his father Morgan’s job got a little harder.
ECU and N.C. State were main competitors for the consensus three-star recruit, N&O All-Metro selection and conference player of the year. Those were the only two hats on the table as Ahlers, who is a class of 2018 quarterback at D.H. Conley in Greenville, thanked the community, his family and his coaches before picking the Pirates over the Wolfpack.
Ahlers’ father is the ECU public address announcer and a sports radio host on Pirate Radio (1250 AM in Greenville). The “Arrrgh!” that the elder Ahlers is known for after first downs could have a little more gusto if it’s Holton Ahlers on the field.
“My problem’s going to be staying calm as a spectator and not saying what comes to my mind,” Morgan Ahlers said.
Holton Ahlers said his father’s ties to the school didn’t affect his decision to go to ECU, he wanted to stay local, “But it will be cool,” he said.
“It’s just home,” Holton Ahlers said. “Both schools had great tradition and great fan bases, and I just decided it would be best for me to become a person and a football player here at home.”
The junior led the state in passing and set several N.C. High School Athletic Association offensive records this season at Conley. He accounted for more than 5,400 total yards, completing 284 of 460 passes (62 percent) for 4,503 yards and 51 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
The 6-4, 235-pound lefty doesn’t lack for speed or size. He ran 150 times for 911 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
“He’s got a great support system all the way around, I think that was evident today with everybody that was here to support him. His family was tremendous,” Conley coach Nate Conner said. “He’s a worker. There’s nothing else to say about that, he’s just a hard-working kid. He carries a chip on his shoulder. He’s very eager to be the very best football player he can be. I’m excited about his future because I know that’s who he is.”
Holton Ahlers tied for fifth in state history in single-season TD responsibility and set a state record with 618 total yards against C.B. Aycock this season. He later set the marks for No. 2 (608) against Cardinal Gibbons and No. 5 (581) against J.H. Rose.
The loss to Rose, 77-67, set a new state record for most points by two teams in one game, but in Ahlers’ next outing he helped break it in an 83-68 win over Aycock.