WEST UNION-It might not take opposing teams long to figure out who will be the primary ballcarrier when they take on the Bulldogs from Doddridge County.
All they will have to do is look at last year's statistics to find who the most likely candidate to run the ball will be.
"He (Justin Heflin) will be our workhorse," head coach Dan McConnell explained. "He's our most experienced running back and he will be the backbone of our offense."
Nearly 600 yards and six touchdowns on 120 carries were numbers good enough to get the 170-pounder on the all-Little Kanawha Conference team as an honorable mention selection. But, that could just be the tip of the iceberg for the 6-footer as Doddridge attempts to reach the Class A playoffs for the first time since the 2003 campaign.
"He has pretty good hands and speed so you might see him split out from time to time just so we can find different ways to get the ball in his hands," continued the coach.
Making Heflin's job a little easier will be the return of all but one starter from the Bulldogs' front line.
"We have moved some people around, but for the most part, the offensive line will be the same one he ran behind last year," added the coach.
Looking to open up holes for their top offensive weapon will be senior Wesley Stanley, juniors Jacob Ross, Cole McKinney and Dylan Cayton and sophomore Devron Siders.
"Our linemen learned last year that if they stay on their blocks just a little bit longer that he (Heflin) will make the right cut and find the hole and when he does that, then he has the speed to run to daylight."
Defensively, the National Honor Society member will line up as the team's free safety for the third straight season.
"He picked off a pass against Ritchie County and returned it all the way for a touchdown. It's almost like having a running back on defense."
McConnell also hopes that having a veteran runner in the backfield will make the task for first-year starting quarterback Corey Aichele easier.
"Justin kind of calms him (Aichele) down," explained the coach. "And, the team understands that it can count on him when it is in need of a big play."