Hometown ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers to celebrate senior day Saturday after returning Pirates program to bowl quality

ECU hosts Houston Saturday at 2 PM
Hometown ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers to celebrate senior day Saturday after returning Pirates program to bowl quality
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:12 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - For the past 5 years, Holton Ahlers has been the face of ECU football.

The local boy quarterbacking his hometown school he’s loved his whole life. With his dad on the public address microphone watching every play at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium.

Saturday is Holton’s final home game for the purple and gold.

“Nobody has done more for this program as a player, and there have been some pretty darn good ones now, than Holton Ahlers,” says ECU offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick.

“It has probably hit me more than I thought it would earlier in the week,” says ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, “One more game in Dowdy and I’m just thankful for this ride I have been on.”

Holton Ahlers stayed home after graduating from D.H. Conley. All he has done on the field is flip his favorite school’s football program’s fortunes around and lead the Pirates to two straight bowl seasons.

“You go into a program that is losing there is gonna be criticism, especially being the quarterback, especially being the hometown,” says Ahlers, “I knew going in, I was going to face some hard days. Probably didn’t know how hard it was going to be.”

Holton has set seven school career records and five conference career marks over his five seasons with ecu.

“Nothing was really going to take me off the field. I’ve had broken bones and torn muscles and everything in between. I’ve still been out there on the field,” says Ahlers, “That’s just how much I appreciate this University and how much this place deserves to win.”

“Just because of his toughness, and just everything he has done, and the sacrifice he has made is just incredible,” says Kirkpatrick, “I don’t know if there will be another one like him for a long time.”

Ahlers stayed the course. He decided to come back for his fifth year this year. His impact has been monumental.

“... He’s just a special kid. We’re obviously very close and I care about him tremendously. I’m thankful we have had our time together,” says ECU head football coach Mike Houston, “So I’m just excited to see him finish his career here. I hope Saturday is another great performance for him but also for us. He has meant a lot to our football program and a lot to me.”

“He’s the one behind all this. He didn’t even really recruit the senior class, 5th year class, but he is certainly the one that changed it,” says Ahlers of his coach Mike Houston, “He is the one that brought in the program to change it and we bought into it.”

Holton and the Pirates’ play has taken a miserable situation and made football fun again in Greenville.

“I’ll miss the meetings when we are in there just saying things and talking. Some of the funny moments when he does some things and I’m just like you are goofy,” says Kirkpatrick, “He’s been really funny this year it seems like.”

“Going into the locker room and the mood in the locker room, football being fun again for these guys,” says Ahlers, “And I know all the records will eventually be broken, and all that. But if people can remember me for just giving everything I had to this University, to that locker room, to my teammates, then that’s what matters.”

ECU hosts Houston on Saturday at 2 PM. The Pirates senior day celebration will happen around 25 minutes before kickoff for fans who want to watch them. The school recommends getting there early.