YUKON — Midwest City is replacing its highly successful head football coach, Steve Huff, and running back, James Flanders, in 2012.
For the former, the Bombers knocked it out of the park with former Tulsa Washington and Star Spencer coach Darrell Hall, who has won two state titles.
For the latter, Midwest City must find a way to replace James Flanders, an Oklahoman All-Stater and Tulsa signee who was the Big All-City Player of the Year after rushing for 2,456 yards and 44 touchdowns as a senior.
If Saturday's OKVarsity.com All-State Combine is any indication, the Bombers might be in good shape at running back.
Senior-to-be Qualan Johnson, who is expected to start next season, ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and jumped 34-feet, 3 inches in his vertical jump.
Johnson said he's gotten some interest from Tulsa, Ivy League schools and TCU.
“My strength is running through the gaps,” Johnson said. “I'm not really a shaker; I'm more of a bruiser.”
Johnson rushed for 275 yards and three touchdowns last season, averaging about 8 yards per carry.
One of the three Flanders brothers — John, Timothy and James — has been Midwest City's starter in the backfield for the past six seasons.
“Those guys are a great group of guys,” Johnson said. “I want to live up to my name and live up to my school's tradition with running backs. I can't really live up to their expectations, but I can live up to mine.”
Johnson enters the season as the starter, but coming up behind him is another impressive athlete whose showing at Saturday's combine was even more eye-popping.
Bryan Hartfield, who is a junior-to-be, ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, which was the fastest time Saturday. Hartfield also jumped the second-highest in the vertical, with a 36-1.
Hartfield's playing time was limited as a sophomore because of shoulder problems, but he said he's been going to physical therapy and the shoulder feels good.
“This being my first combine, I think I did pretty good,” Hartfield said.
As far as the adjustment to a new coach goes, both backs said things are going well with Hall.
Huff's teams at Midwest City were 60-12 in six seasons. He led the Bombers to the playoffs each year. He left to become the first football coach at College Station (Texas) High School.
“I think Coach Hall is a good coach,” Johnson said. “He's a good man, and he's proven that he can win at every level.”