There might come a time when Fort Hays State University football coach Chris Brown has to pull rank on his senior running back, Kenneth Iheme.
Until that time comes, however, Iheme is just going to keep trucking until someone knocks him off course.
It hasn’t happened thus far.
Several times during Saturday’s win against Pittsburg State, Brown had to stop Iheme and ask him if he needed a breather.
The answer always was a resounding no. There was no way he was going to stop.
The result was his second straight workhorse effort —28 carries, a career-best 189 yards, and a pair of touchdowns — for the Wichita Heights High School product, seemingly putting the FHSU offense on his back en route to a 21-17 come-from-behind victory.
“He just wants to battle every single play, every single down,” Brown said of Iheme. “Even in practice, that’s just the way he is.”
His first score came from 47 yards immediately after FHSU recovered a Pitt State fumble.
Iheme burst up the middle nearly untouched. His play became even more important with starting quarterback Jacob Mezera out the remainder of the game with an ankle injury.
“The kid’s phenomenal. I love him to death — a tremendous young man,” Brown said of Iheme.
Saturday’s career performance was the second straight game where the sixth-year senior (two redshirts) put up career performances.
On the road against Lindenwood, a 38-35 win, Iheme had 30 carries for 174 yards.
Thinking about it, he said, it’s been since his senior year of high school he had that kind of performance in back-to-back outings.
He had four straight games of a 100 or more yards in an 1,100 yard season for the Falcons in 2011. The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder has spent the previous five years as a backup to the likes of Shaquille Cooper and Ed Smith.
This season, his final in a Tiger uniform, he has made the most of his time to shine.
“Just patience and trying to get better,” Iheme said, “and learning from those guys has definitely helped me become a better player.”
Iheme’s role has increased the last two games after backup Charles Tigner suffered an injury in the Tigers’ win against Northeastern State. That was the start of Iheme’s dominance in the backfield. He ended the Northeastern State game with 95 yards and two scores. He leads the Tigers now with 879 rushing and receiving yards combined with nine total scores. He is averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Despite his burst, which has seemed to be better this season, he still credits an offensive line that has helped produce the MIAA’s third-best team in yards per contest at 449.8.
“The O-line is just being physical, the tight ends as well,” Iheme said. “I just run, and I’ll take going against DBs over linebackers and D-linemen any day.
“It’s really just the O-line doing their job and making it easy for me.”