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QB the big question at Conley

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Holton Ahlers throws a pass during the Rose-Conley football game at Conley on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The D.H. Conley football team is known for its spectacular athletes. Fast, physical and athletic are all adjectives often used to describe the Vikings players.

The Vikes finished with an 11-2 record in 2017, led by a perfect 6-0 mark in Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A play. With star quarterback Holton Ahlers and wide receiver CJ Johnson leading an offense that lit up defenses for a total of 682 points, it seemed like the wins would never end for the Vikings. That was until a 44-29 loss in the second round of the 3-A state playoffs against Northern Guilford ended the storied high school career of Ahlers.

The question of who will fill the big shoes left behind by the now-East Carolina freshman QB is one that has fans talking. It will be up to Conley head coach Nate Conner to determine who he believes provides the best opportunity to return the Vikings to the state playoffs.

“We have a few guys we are looking at,” Conner said. “Nick Hamilton is a real good quarterback. He’s doing really well so far, but we haven’t decided who is going to be the main guy just yet.”

Conner also said there could be times when Johnson could move from the outside of a formation to right in the middle, acting as a running back or quarterback. 

Hamilton led the Conley junior varsity team to an 8-2 record last season, throwing for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also added one touchdown using his feet while rushing for 65 yards.

Conner said there are several JV players from a year ago who are getting significant reps now in practice. 

A great deal of responsibility will be placed on the Vikings’ senior class, including Johnson. He committed to ECU in May, and will now have his full attention devoted to making a deep run in the state playoffs.

“It’s always great to have a guy like that on your team with his kind of work ethic. He is a really special player and he shows how hard he works by setting a good example both in the classroom and on the field,” Conner said. “He has been really great in helping our younger guys. He’s an all-around young man that we are proud to have as a part of this team.

Defensively, Conner is looking to lean on Reed Chandler. Chandler, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds, is “a strong and explosive player,” according to Conner. He plays on the d-line and is athletic with a nose for tackling any ball-carrier.

“He’s an intelligent young man. People know his name around here, but I have the feeling more people will know his name come game time,” Conner said. 

The Vikings begin their season on Aug. 17 when they host Northeastern. They will then travel to face Rocky Mount and Washington before returning home for a matchup with East Wake on Sept. 7, A trip to West Craven, and a home game against Eastern Wayne, will prepare them for another two-game road trip facing New Bern and then rival J.H. Rose on Oct. 19. 

Conley will host Southern Wayne and then play a season-ending showdown with South Central on Nov. 2.

“We’re going to win the state title,” Johnson said of the upcoming season.

Contact Jake Keator at 252-329-9594 or jkeator@reflector.com and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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