GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — If football is their business, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is the office for the Ahlers family.
For Holton, his arm and legs are his tools. For his dad, Morgan, it’s his voice as he calls the moments during East Carolina University’s football games.
‘Touchdown, Pirates.’ Touchdown for the Ahlers family.
Morgan has been the public address announcer at ECU football games for the past 18 years.
“Been doing it a long time. It’s just a lot of fun,” Morgan said.
It’s been a fun experience for his kids growing up, too.
“You’d go sit with mom and the brothers in the stands and you look up there and usually before the game my dad would call us and wave down to us. That was always super cool for us,” Holton said.
Fast forward and Morgan is still in his seat in the football press box. Now, Holton is on the field, leading his hometown Pirates to another bowl berth as a fifth-year senior. That comes after a great sports career that includes everything from youth baseball to football games at D.H. Conley High School.
“You see him wearing that purple and gold and you just beam with pride,” Morgan said.
“I’m living what every kid in Greenville who has ever grown up in Greenville, I’m living their dream and I’m living my dream too,” Holton said. “It’s sad that it’s coming to an end. But everything good comes to an end at some point. Just enjoying every single moment that I have.”
Just like life, there is nothing guaranteed in football. So the Ahlers have made sure they take nothing for granted this season.
“Never. Cause it all ends one day,” Morgan said.
“It is definitely something when I look back I’m going to think that was pretty cool to have my dad calling my name out,” Holton said.
Holton has one last home game on Saturday, against the Houston Cougars. It’s one last chance to walk through the tunnel, one last chance to feel the rush of the home crowd as Holton takes the field. One last chance to hear that familiar voice over the speakers from his dad as a member of the football team.
“It will be emotional for my family and playing here one last time in the stadium that I really grew up in,” Holton said. “Being the quarterback here and my dad announcing the games and my family being in the stands it is it’s going to be tough.
“I think after the game it’s really going to hit me. Just got to try to focus on playing good. Making it one good last memory here and sending these fans and sending my family out with something that they can always remember.”
Morgan has watched over Holton his entire life. Now, he has one last home game to watch over him from the press box. Despite his job revolving around putting words together, Morgan has a hard time finding the right ones to describe his expectations for Saturday during Senior Day.
“Tough … Tough,” Morgan said.
Everything comes to an end but there are few things that will never change for Holton and Morgan: their passion for football, their devotion to East Carolina University and the love of a father and son.