Eastern Alamance High School senior quarterback and team captain Jason Ball said he knew he wanted to play football from the very first time he picked up the pigskin.
“As a young kid, I was always watching my brothers play and wanted to be around them,” Ball said. “I never wanted to go to school but for football.”
Ball dreamed of playing football at the next level ever since he was a child, and as he enters his final year of high school, he has a chance to turn those dreams into reality. Before he can make it to Saturday game days, Ball has one last ride under the Friday night lights with the Eagles.
While he might not be in college yet, Ball said he has set himself up for success throughout his time as quarterback in high school.
“I want to go play in college,” Ball said. “But right now I am just focused on my senior year, trying to win some games, have fun and everything will fall into place.”
With college on the horizon for Ball, he said he has already received interest from a few schools, including Appalachian State, Eastern Carolina University, Liberty University, as well as other Division II schools.
Much like his dreams to play in college, Ball said it was a huge milestone to play at the varsity level at Eastern Alamance under the mentorship of 32-year head coach John Kirby.
“I’ve always wanted to play for coach Kirby and be his quarterback,” Ball said. “Ever since coming to the kids’ camp, I have always wanted to be around coach Kirby.”
It's not only the strong connection the Alamance community has with Eastern Alamance football, Kirby said, but also the connection between the community and him that has made the Eagles his forever home.
“We have a community here that supports Eastern Alamance football and by being a consistent in the community has helped our program,” Kirby said. “There aren’t a whole lot of schools who can say their coach has been there 30 plus years.”
As excited as Ball was to be an Eagle, Kirby said the feeling was reciprocated by him and the rest of the coaches. Kirby, who has been at Eastern Alamance for 39 years, said he learns new things about the game of football every time the two take the field together, and said Ball takes a huge weight off the coaching staff's shoulders.
“I think Jason serves as a coach on the field. He’s a veteran guy, he knows the game,” Kirby said. “Jason helps coach us too because he sees things and we talk a lot. We are glad he’s on our football team.”
Throughout his time coaching Ball, Kirby said Ball has always kept sight of his future aspirations.
“Jason is goal driven and he wants to play at the next level,” Kirby said. “He’s here early, he leaves late, and he studies the game.”
Kirby said Ball’s drive and mental determination follows a legacy of former Eastern Alamance players, such as linebacker John Lamot, who played for Boston College from 2016 to 2020, as well as quarterback Austin Bryant, a 2020 graduate who totaled over 6,000 yards and 80 touchdowns in his 3-year career.
“He follows a legacy of good quarterbacks that we’ve had,” Kirby said. “He’s just fallen in line and I think he’s trying to be better than they were.”
Paired with his gritty attitude, Kirby said it’s Ball's strong connection with the community and his family that will take him far in his football career.
“He knows where he is coming from and he knows where he is at,” Kirby said. “He’s grounded, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Drive by drive, Ball keeps striving for his collegiate football dreams, but he said no matter what, he will always keep the Eagles, and home nest of Eastern Alamance, close to his heart.