There's no questioning James Flanders' effectiveness last season for Midwest City.
As a junior, Flanders averaged nearly 6.6 yards per carry, scoring 22 touchdowns.
Bombers coach Steve Huff, though, wants to pull down one particular stat of Flanders': his carries.
“I'd feel good about giving him the ball just about every play,” Huff said. “But we've got some guys that are good enough to give him some relief, so we're going to try to get them some of those to keep things fresh.”
Flanders had 254 carries last season as Midwest City finished 10-1.
The Bombers opened practice at 7 a.m. Tuesday. They'll practice early again Wednesday to try to beat the heat before Thursday's first day of school pushes practice to the afternoons.
While Flanders isn't about to willingly give up carries, he understands the benefit.
“It's a little bit of both,” Flanders said. “Whatever makes the team win, though, I don't really care how many times I touch the ball.”
Ricky Reeves, the Bombers' standout defensive back, figures to be one part of the puzzle in helping to lighten the load.
Also a senior, Reeves is one of the Bombers' starting cornerbacks. But he and Zeke Lewis, who starts at linebacker, will likely see occasional carries.
“It's different after being on defense most all of the time since after my freshman year, but the transition hasn't been that bad,” Reeves said. “I've really been trying to work at it and get better at blocking, especially sustaining blocks, and it's paying off.”
But even with the extra help, Flanders is still the vital piece of the Bombers' offense.
He's also a key piece of Midwest City's leadership group, especially with the team looking for a new quarterback.
As the last of the three Flanders brothers to come through Midwest City, Flanders has carried the expectations of his brothers' performances, both on and off the field, through his career.
Oldest brother James was a standout primarily in the defensive backfield for the Bombers and is in his senior year at the University of Tulsa, where he started every game a year ago. Middle brother Timothy was a star running back at Midwest City, went to Kansas State out of high school and earned Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honors at Sam Houston State last year after transferring there, running for nearly 950 yards.
The youngest Flanders has committed to Tulsa. But he's still got plenty of unfinished business left at Midwest City.
“There's no reason why we can't win state with the guys we've got coming back,” he said. “We have a lot of great athletes on this team and we can get there.”