D.H. Conley’s Holton Ahlers (12) scrambles as South Central’s Josh Stevens (54) attempts to tackle. The D.H. Conley Vikings visited the South Central Falcons in a high school football game on Nov. 3, 2017. Carl Copeland newobserver.com
D.H. Conley’s Holton Ahlers (12) scrambles as South Central’s Josh Stevens (54) attempts to tackle. The D.H. Conley Vikings visited the South Central Falcons in a high school football game on Nov. 3, 2017. Carl Copeland newobserver.com

High School Sports

AP all-state football team: meet the players voted NC’s best of 2017

By Aaron Moody And J. Mike Blake

amoody@newsobserver.com

mblake@newsobserver.com

December 21, 2017 03:07 PM

Six players in the PrepsNow 20-county coverage area were voted to the Associated Press 2017 all-state football team, with D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers earning 11 of a possible 19 votes to earn the AP Offensive Player of the Year award.

Shelby linebacker Dax Hollifield was voted top defensive player, earning 10 votes.

Harding coach Sam Greiner was voted AP coach of the year after the school won its first state title since 1953.

Ahlers, an East Carolina recruit, was also an AP all-state pick last season. As a senior, he completed 223 of 358 passes (62 percent) for 3,763 yards and 61 touchdowns with four interceptions and also ran 109 times for 933 yards and 14 touchdowns. That was the second highest touchdown responsibility (75) in state history and fourth-most touchdown passes in a single season.

His favorite target, junior wide receiver C.J. Johnson, also made the all-state team. He caught 68 passes for 1,547 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Leesville Road senior offensive lineman Peyton Winstead (East Carolina recruit), Orange senior linebacker Payton Wilson (N.C. State recruit), Wake Forest senior defensive back Javon Terry (UNC recruit) and Green Hope senior returner/wide receiver Jordyn Adams (UNC recruit) also made the team.

Winstead played left tackle for the Pride but is the state’s top-ranked center prospect. Wilson made 103 tackles, 21 tackles for losses, 10 sacks in just eight games. Returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble, and also played wide receiver, quarterback and punt returner. Terry tallied 42 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5 interceptions and 19 passes broken up.

Adams had more than 1,000 yards receiving, but made the team as a returner after scoring touchdowns on five kick returns, including three punts in one game to tie the NCHSAA record.

Adams and Wilson were U.S. Army All-American selections.

Below is the complete list, decided by 19 media voters across the state. Number of votes are shown in parenthesis. No player in the state was unanimous.

Offense

▪  Holton Ahlers, QB, D.H. Conley (14)

▪  Quavaris Crouch, RB, Harding (14)

▪  Zamir White, RB, Scotland (12)

▪  C.J. Johnson, WR, D.H. Conley (9)

▪  Wiz Vaughn, WR, New Hanover (9)

▪  Reggie Bryant,WR, Seventy-First (7)

▪  Gary Williams, TE, Vance (7)

▪  Jovaughn Gwyn, OL, Harding (12)

▪  Michael Edwards, OL, South View (9)

▪  Peyton Winstead, OL, Leesville Road (8)

▪  Katrel Shaw, OL, Mallard Creek (7)

▪  Larry Dowdy, OL, South Point (6)

▪  Will McDonald, OL, Porter Ridge (6)

▪  Tye Mintz, ATH, Cherokee (3)

Harding High RB Quavaris Crouch, left, talks with football coach Sam Greiner during practice on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017.
David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Defense

▪  Traveon Freshwater, DL, Northeastern (14)

▪  Jordan Davis, DL, Mallard Creek (11)

▪  K.J. Henry, DL, West Forsyth (11)

▪  Jacolbe Cowan, DL, Providence Day (6)

▪  Dax Hollifield, LB, Shelby (14)

▪  Payton Wilson, LB, Orange (8)

▪  Jerome Bass, LB, Red Springs (5)

▪  Miles Simon, DB, Hibriten (10)

▪  Francis Meehan, DB, New Hanover (7)

▪  William “J.R.” Walker, DB, Northeastern (7)

▪  Malik Dunlap, DB, Harding (6)

▪  Tyus Fields, DB, Hough (6)

▪  Javon Terry, DB, Wake Forest (6)

Special Teams

▪  Chris Dunn, K, North Davidson (12)

▪  Jacob Young, P, North Rowan (6)

▪  Jordyn Adams, KR, Green Hope (11)

Coach of the Year: Sam Greiner, Harding (8)

Offensive Player of the Year: Holton Ahlers, D.H. Conley (11)

Defensive Player of the Year: Dax Hollifield, Shelby (10)