Bless our hearts as Edmund Burke quoted: The only thing necessary for the triump of evil is for good men(and women) to...

Almost all shotgun for Pirates


Quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) throws a pass during East Carolina football practice Wednesday morning.


The Daily Reflector

Friday, March 22, 2019

Like most college football teams, and even East Carolina under the previous coaching staff, first-year head coach Mike Houston plans for ECU’s quarterback to mainly operate out of the shotgun.

“There is points and times where we may be under center, but it is not going to be a lot,” Houston said this week. “We will be in the gun most of the time, and I think that is pretty common across college football.”

Houston and offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick were plenty successful with a spread shotgun-style attack at James Madison. Their offensive highlights at JMU, an annual Football Championship Subdivision frontrunner, included the Dukes bulldozing to 410 rushing yards in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to open the 2017 season with a 34-14 win over ECU.

Now in charge of the hopeful Pirates, Houston’s main theme during spring practices has been physicality, which reflects an offensive style that worked at JMU.

Lead Pirate quarterback Holton Ahlers is comfortable as a shotgun QB, dating back to his standout career at D.H. Conley High School that finished with him ranking second in total offense in North Carolina High School Athletic Association history with 14,784 total yards. He was an ECU freshman in 2018 and shared starting duties with Reid Herring.

East Carolina has five more regular practices planned before holding its first spring scrimmage in Dowdy-Ficklen on March 30.

“Some of our checks and stuff are a little bit different, but (the quarterbacks) are getting a little better every day,” Houston said. “There’s obviously been some bright spots and some areas where we need to improve. The two older guys are obviously more advanced than the younger guys, so we expect a little more out of them.”

Ahlers’ leadership also is present at practice and within the offensive personnel. Herring has split a lot of No. 2 reps with freshman Bryan Gagg.

Gagg is one of eight players who signed with East Carolina in December and enrolled early to begin their academic schedules and participate in spring drills.

“I think Bryan Gagg probably has the most thrown at him (compared to other first-semester players),” Houston said. “All of the sudden, he is thrown into a college offense with all the checks and reads and all that stuff, but he is going in there and working hard every day.”

The Pirates’ other QB signee, Alex Flinn from Asheville, should join the team during the summer.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


July 18, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — In the lead spot to start at quarterback for American Athletic Conference preseason favorite UCF is senior Notre Dame transfer Brandon Winbush.

Veteran QBs at Memphis (Brady White) and South Florida (Blake Barnett) both were at Arizona State earlier in their careers. Barnett,…


July 18, 2019


East Carolina was picked fifth in the American Athletic Conference football East Division for the second straight year in the league preseason poll, but more important than the poll’s release Tuesday during AAC media days was the confident and persistent presence of ECU…


July 17, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Coach Mike Houston remains optimistic yet not in position to announce whether or not Traveon Freshwater will be on East Carolina football’s roster for this season.

The former Elizabeth City Northeastern High School star running back and linebacker signed with ECU in…


July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Mike Houston has been in this position before, bracing to prove doubters wrong.

It began with his first head coaching job in 2001 at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, when his team was picked in the preseason eighth out of nine teams but thrived during the season to take…

IMG_2422 (1).jpg

July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — Standing in front of American Athletic Conference “Power Six” logos on Tuesday, conference commissioner Mike Aresco was persistent that he thinks the American is strong enough to not immediately replace Connecticut when the Huskies leave for the Big East.


IMG_2415 (1).jpg

July 16, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — East Carolina athletics director Jon Gilbert found time to put on a swimsuit by mid-afternoon Monday, and ECU football coach Mike Houston sneaked in advice to Pirate receiver Deondre Farrier on the proper cracker-to-oyster ratio when Houston was between interviews at American…

IMG_2404 2 6.18.29 PM.jpg

July 15, 2019

NEWPORT, R.I. — East Carolina is at American Athletic Conference football media days, equipped with first-year coach Mike Houston, first-year athletics director Jon Gilbert and senior receiver Deondre Farrier in his first visit to Newport.

Aside from veteran media relations director Tom…

IMG_2388 2 (1).jpg

July 15, 2019

A trio of first-year American Athletic Conference football coaches, including East Carolina's Mike Houston, heads to Newport, R.I., today for a first taste of seafood, interviews and more at AAC media days.

The other two newcomers are Temple's Rod Carey and Dana Holgorsen after his offseason…


July 14, 2019

The Minges Coliseum court is in under renovation as East Carolina’s basketball coaches also are working to reconstruct their teams that will play this year on a new-look Minges paint scheme.

Fresh from checking out a recent workout of men’s coach Joe Dooley’s squad, which this…


July 13, 2019

Many East Carolina football fans know what Holton Ahlers will be doing in August and the ensuing months as the Pirates’ sophomore projected starting quarterback.

Others fans might have noticed the Greenville native was an ardent ECU baseball fan in June, but in July, he and other Pirate…

187 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 19
        Next Page»   Last Page»