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PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Vikings Hamilton looking to improve

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D.H. Conley's Nick Hamilton runs the ball during practice on Aug. 6, 2019.


By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 23, 2019

Last season D.H. Conley faced the daunting task of replacing a once in a generation talent in now-East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers. While others wondered and speculated as to who would fill the lofty shoes left by Ahlers one man knew from the start who he wanted to step in. That man was Conley head coach Nate Conner.

Conner wasted no time in transitioning then junior Nick Hamilton into taking major first-team reps and refining his game, and one year later Hamilton has proven himself to be more than capable of leading the Vikings to victory.

“I think he just gets more and more comfortable with the offense in everything he does in practice and in games,” Conner said of Hamilton. “The special thing about Nick Hamilton is that he comes to work everyday and wants to improve. It’s fun to coach him everyday because he wants to get better and he wants to learn. I think all last season, as it progressed, he just got better and better.”

Hamilton proved in DHC’s first game of the year, a 42-34 loss to Northeastern, that he was the guy to take control, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns. It would prove to be one of his best games of the season, fighting off a dominant defense that featured ECU’s top rated recruit, Traveon Freshwater. He went on to throw three or more touchdowns in eight of the Vikings 13 games last season.

“Last year everything was rushed, ‘I have to get the ball out,’” Conner said of Hamilton’s mentality. “Now he understands how everything is supposed to develop, so I’m excited to see how he does.”

Hamilton led DHC to a 9-4 overall record, going 5-1 and finishing just short of a 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference title last season.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident this year after having a full season under my belt,” Hamilton said. “That being said, this year provides another list of things I need to work on to improve my game.”

On that list of items is finding a replacement for another Viking turned ECU Pirate, top receiver CJ Johnson. Johnson accounted for nearly 60-percent of Hamilton’s 2,925 passing yards last season.

“CJ was someone who, as a team, we counted on to make plays when we needed them,” Hamilton said. “This year I feel like there will be more than just one guy stepping up to fill his role. Two of our guys, Matthew Rostar and Charlie Dees, have two years of varsity experience and I think can have a breakout year. LeShaun Atchinson and Chance Brown are both guys who I feel like have a chip on their shoulder and want to compete. I’m really looking forward to seeing what all of our guys can do and having multiple attempts will only help me improve as well.”

In his senior year Hamilton is looking to leave the Vikings program in even better shape then when he took over last year. He and his team plan to use losses from last season as a way to propel them to an even more impressive season.

“This year I feel like the whole team will use those moments from last season in the back of our head,” Hamilton said. “We’ll use it as motivation for this upcoming season. As for me as a senior, I want to go out and win games. I want to know that left it all out on the field.”

Conley kicks off the year tonight on the road against Northeastern at 7 p.m..

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


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