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Offensive player of the year: Holton Ahlers

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D.H. Conley's Holton Ahlers, offensive player of the year, poses in the studio on Dec. 19, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Perhaps Holton Ahlers’ most outstanding moment of his senior season was tying the NCHSAA record with nine touchdown passes in D.H. Conley’s conference championship victory over South Central to close the regular season.

But when Ahlers, The Daily Reflector’s all-county offensive player of the year for the second straight season, looks back at that win, he sees it as an encapsulation of his time at Conley not because of his stellar performance, but because of the way his team buoyed his spirits in the days following the loss of a dear friend, Turner Shafer.

“The week before, my best friend passed away and it was just kind of dark in my life,” Ahlers said. “I knew that I could depend on the team to get me through that. We were playing South Central for the conference championship and all the fans showed out. It was just a special night. It was something that kind of reflected on not just that night, but my whole Conley career with everyone behind me and supporting me. I’ll forever be grateful for that.”

The nine scores Ahlers tossed that night were part of an eye-popping 61-touchdown pass campaign that also garnered him state offensive player of the year honors from the Associated Press. That total is the fourth-most passing TDs in a single season in NCHSAA history, and Ahlers threw just four interceptions against those scores (that’s roughly a 15-1 ratio, if you’re counting).

His 14 rushing touchdowns gave him a touchdown responsibility of 75, the second-highest mark in state history. He was also MVP of the Shrine Bowl all-star game.

But with his high school career behind him and his future as a college player set to begin thanks to his signing with East Carolina last week, Ahlers was introspective not just on his senior season, but his entire four-year tenure and the lasting legacy he and DHC’s other seniors leave in their wake.

“We changed the culture at Conley football for the good,” he said. “Going into every game, I think our fans and us and the coaches and everyone around believed we at least had a chance to win, and that’s something that wasn’t there before for a lot of Conley football’s history.

“We always talked about leaving our own legacy and I think we did that.”

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High Schools

October 20, 2018

South Central continued its undefeated football season with a decisive victory over New Bern on Friday night, 52-8.

In their first game in two weeks, the Falcons dominated with their multifaceted run game and took advantage of the Bears’ offensive mistakes.

After a sloppy but uneventful first…

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October 20, 2018

Four Pitt County high school volleyball programs are ready to make some noise in postseason play. J.H. Rose, D.H. Conley, South Central and Ayden-Grifton all are eyeing a state title this year after terrific regular seasons.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association plans to reveal the…

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October 19, 2018

D.H. Conley bested rival J.H. Rose on the gridiron for the second straight year Friday night, 48-21, increasing their win streak to six straight in the process.

“This is an awesome feeling,” Conley head coach Nate Conner said. “The most important thing is that it puts us in a…

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October 19, 2018

It’s time for another installment of one of the best rivalries in the state as D.H. Conley (5-2, 3-0) travels just under seven miles down the road to face J.H. Rose (5-2, 2-1) tonight in high school football action.

With two high-scoring offenses coming together it will be a shootout, and…

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October 18, 2018

The Ayden-Grifton Chargers volleyball team celebrated senior night by defeating South Lenoir Wednesday to improve to 19-1 on the season.

The Chargers (11-0 in league play) won in straight sets, 25-13, 25-8 and 25-19.

The match marked the final time seniors Jordan Cannon, Zion Hardy and Kristen…

October 18, 2018

Zion Hardy, known by her teammates as “The Beast,” is one of three seniors on a Chargers volleyball roster that has only 10 players. Hardy spoke with preps Beat Writer Jake Keator after a 3-0 win on senior night about the Chargers season and winning back-to-back conference titles.

Q:…

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October 16, 2018

J.H. Rose put on a performance reminiscent of the beginning of its season with a 55-0 rout of Southern Wayne last Wednesday night. 

The game seemed to be a walk in the park for head coach Dave Wojtecki and Rose (5-2, 2-1), who held a comfortable 42-0 lead at halftime.

The Rampants switched up…

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October 13, 2018

After winning yet another local volleyball showdown against fellow powerhouse South Central on Friday night, D.H. Conley coach Jennifer Gillikin perhaps best summed up her team’s season thus far when asked what she does to help her team avoid a letdown.

“What do you mean by a letdown?…

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October 13, 2018

North Johnston kicker Graham Walston spoiled homecoming for the Farmville Central Jaguars on Friday night, kicking a 20-yard field goal as time expired to cap off a furious second half comeback. The Panthers walked away with a 31-29 victory. 

Tied at 29 late in the fourth quarter, FC (2-6, 1-…

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October 12, 2018

The weather once again played a factor in the scheduling of high school football games in Pitt County this week. In preparation for the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Michael, J.H. Rose and D.H. Conley both played road games on Wednesday and both teams walked away with wins.

The trip by Ayden-…

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