Northeastern faces challenge in D.H. Conley

Eagles, Vikings face each other for second straight year


Aaron Harris (with ball) starts at quarterback for Northeastern tonight after playing as wide receiver last year.


By David Gough
Sports Writer

Friday, August 17, 2018

The first Friday of the high school football season is finally here.

Every local school is ready for the season to start and perhaps no one is more ready than Northeastern.

The Eagles dominated last season winning every game they played until their third-round loss to Wallace-Rose Hill in the playoffs. Now, they’re ready to move forward and try to make an even deeper run this time around.

“It was a long spring, a long summer,” coach Antonio Moore said. “Everyone’s excited for Friday night to get the season started.”

Northeastern kicks things off on the road at 7 p.m. against D.H. Conley. The 3A school went 11-2 last season.

One of those two losses came at the hands of the Eagles in last season’s opening week. It was an overtime thriller that Northeastern ended up winning 55-49.

At one point, the Eagles led 42-21 before the Vikings stormed back to be able to get the game to go beyond regulation.

Moore would be happy with a similarly tight and exciting game this time around. Though, he ideally would like less offense.

“I hope so,” Moore said. “I hope we do. Just with a little bit better defense on both sides.”

Both starting quarterbacks from last year’s game graduated, so there will be new players making their starting debuts behind center tonight.

The Eagles won’t have to deal with Holton Ahlers this time around. The East Carolina commit dominated the Northeastern defense in both the running and passing game that night.

Ahlers threw for five touchdowns on 341 passing yards and rushed for 100 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

On the flip side, D.H. Conley won’t have to deal with former Northeastern quarterback Dallas Hall this time around, either. The Hampton commit scored five total touchdown with 198 yards passing and 165 yards rushing.

Aaron Harris, who played receiver and defensive back last season, will be the Eagles’ starting quarterback to begin his senior year.

When it comes to tonight’s battle, Moore said he just needs the team to play Northeastern football for 48 minutes. The best chance at beating the Vikings for a second time in two years is making sure they play disciplined football.

“Limit the turnovers and limit the mistakes,” Moore said. “We have to be able to do that.”

Whatever the game plan may be for the Eagles tonight, Moore knows it provides a challenge for his team to play a bigger school like D.H. Conley to begin a season. It also won’t be the last game the 2A school plays a larger school as it hosts Virginia’s 5A Norview next week.

While it is a challenge, there can be an advantage to playing a school like D.H. Conley to begin the season.

Moore said it can give a decent barometer for how well Northeastern could play against its normal competition for the rest of the season. Best case scenario, they beat the bigger school like they did against the Vikings and Norview last season and it provides confidence and expectations moving forward.

“D.H. Conley is a tough team,” Moore said. “They’re usually pretty good. Playing a 3A team like them at the beginning of the season can show us where we’re at and what we need to for the rest of the year.”