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Ahlers, Falcons top prep stories

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D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers holds up his Letter of Intent to play at ECU at Tie Breakers Sports Bar on Dec. 20, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Monday, December 25, 2017

The prep sports landscape in Pitt County was dominated in 2017 by some big performances — both individually and collectively — on the football field. There were plenty of headlines left to go around, though, for one team’s run to the verge of a state basketball championship and one school’s search for a head football coach.

Here are some of the top stories from the year:

Ahlers ascends: D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers kicked off the year by committing to East Carolina over N.C. State in January. It turned out he was just getting started putting his name all over 2017.

Once his senior season started, Ahlers helped guide Conley to a 10-1 regular season and its third straight Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference title. Though the Vikings’ playoff run ended in the second round of the 3-A playoffs, Ahlers constructed a masterful final high school season, tossing a state-leading 61 touchdown passes and producing more than 4,500 total yards passing and rushing.

He was named The Daily Reflector’s all-county offensive player of the year for the second straight season, and was the Associated Press offensive player of the year. He capped the year by signing to play for the Pirates on the first day of the early signing period last week.

Falcons fly: Ahlers and the Vikings commanded their fair share of attention during the season, but across town, another team in the ECC 3-A/4-A was busy earning some attention of its own.

South Central returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014, breaking multiple program records in the best season in school history. Coach Andy Tew, who won Daily Reflector all-county coach of the year honors, led the Falcons to a 10-3 record to set a new mark for wins in a season. SC also made its first appearance in the third round of the playoffs.

The Falcons boasted the highest-scoring offense in 4-A football, fronted by quarterback Dexter McDuffie, running back Nazir Monroe-Smith and wide receiver Emannuel Lewis, all of whom were all-county selections.

Oh, so close: While South Central’s football team enjoyed a resurgence in the fall, its boys’ basketball team was its same old dangerous self as it made a run at a state championship in the spring.

Coach Chris Cherry’s club spent the early part of 2017 carving its way through conference play en route to an undefeated league record and another conference crown. The Falcons then sliced their way through the first four rounds of the postseason, earning a trip to Fayetteville for the East Regional finals.

SC was cut down by underdog Leesville Road, falling in crushing fashion as the Pride slipped by with a 44-43 win that denied Cherry’s squad a spot in the state finals. The Falcons finished 27-2.

Musical chairs: North Pitt spent part of 2017 doing the same thing it did in 2016: searching for a head football coach.

Former athletic director and head coach Brent Wooten, who led the Panthers in the 2016 season, resigned in June to take a job at Havelock. That led NP to name offensive coordinator Garrett Wingate as interim head coach for a season in which the team went 1-10.

Wingate was the third head coach in as many seasons for the Panthers, and the school is again in search of someone to lead the program as the calendar prepares to turn to 2018.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


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

High Schools

November 13, 2018

Pitt County high school football teams finished a perfect 4-0 in the final week of the regular season, while Greene Central almost pulled out an upset of 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference champion Kinston.

Ayden-Grifton (7-4, 4-2) put up another strong outing, shutting out South Lenoir on the road,…

110318JHRfootball-1.jpg (1).jpg

November 10, 2018

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its brackets Saturday afternoon informing teams of their paths to a state title. 

Ayden-Grifton saw a change in its seeding just before the brackets were finalized. A-G started the day as a 14-seed, scheduled to play South Granville.…


November 10, 2018

The Greene Central Rams looked to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season against undefeated Kinston, and nearly did. In the end, however, one key play ended any thought of knocking off the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference leader.

Looking at a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, it seemed…


November 09, 2018

The final week of the high school football regular season is here as local teams, including D.H. Conley (7-3, 5-1), use to make up previously postponed contests during hurricane season. 

The Vikings received some good news Tuesday night, as they learned they will be allowed to continue on into…


November 08, 2018

Ayden-Grifton football brought its regular season to a close on a high note, defeating South Lenoir, 42-0, on Thursday night.

Quarterback Blake McLawhorn threw two touchdown passes on the night, both going to running back JC Darden, who looked much like his older brother, starting running back Ray…


November 08, 2018

Rose forward Tyre Taft had his soccer career at J.H. Rose come to an end Tuesday night after a 1-0 loss to Chapel Hill in the second round of the state playoffs. Taft finished with 17 goals, two assists and 36 points over 39 games played. Taft was a captain and leader of the Rampants on their way…


November 07, 2018

The J.H. Rose soccer team saw its season end in the second round of the state playoffs Tuesday night after a 1-0 upset loss to Chapel Hill. 

The 12-seeded Tigers got on the board early in the first half, as Kevin Morales got the ball past Rose (18-5-1) goal keeper Trey Burelson just over six…


November 06, 2018

Fines, multiple suspensions and student penalties were among the punishments in the wake of last Thursday’s post-game brawl between the D.H. Conley and South Central High School football teams, according to a Pitt County Schools statement on Tuesday.

“School fines were levied,…


November 06, 2018

Thursday’s 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference football championship game ended in an all-out brawl, as South Central (10-0, 6-0) defeated D.H. Conley (7-3, 5-1), 28-27.

Following the end of the heated contest, South Central fans stormed the field, where a flag was planted in the…


November 04, 2018


I saw something new Saturday night at Reynolds Coliseum. D.H Conley’s volleyball team was trailing.

The Vikings may have surrendered a few points here and there in the beginning of a first set during the regular season, of course, but to be as deep as 20 points into a set and…

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