By Zach Duncan
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Carlos Fleeks really didn’t have big plans for this week.

There was a job interview in Dallas his father had set up. Other than that, the Rider graduate was counting down the days until he left to play football at a prep school in Maine.

But when Lubbock Coronado’s Robert Lee couldn’t make the trip to town Tuesday, Fleeks got the call to represent West Texas in the 77th annual Oil Bowl.

“I dropped everything, grabbed all my stuff and went straight to practice,” Fleeks recalled after leading West Texas to a dominant 28-0 shutout of East Texas. “It was a second chance to show everybody what I can do.”

He missed the Dallas job interview, but Fleeks showcased his talents Saturday night for any college coaches still needing a running back after gaining 97 yards in an Offensive MVP performance.

Former Hirschi coach Cody Slater, the West Texas offensive coordinator, was the one who reached out to Fleeks, who ran for 883 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior year.

“We knew he could step in and do what he does,” Slater said. “After the first day, we saw his talent shined through. He really lifted our level, and I couldn’t be more proud of that kid.”

Fleeks was denied the end zone on a fourth-and-goal carry early in the second quarter, but he wouldn’t be stopped on a 52-yard dash with 1:41 remaining in the first half.

“I have to prove myself to people,” said Fleeks, who will be attending Bridgton Academy in Maine if no last-minute offers come in. “I had a bad senior year, and I wanted to let everybody know that I can play.”

In the third quarter with the West facing a third-and-3, Fleeks burst through a hole for an 18-yard gain that set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge for Holliday’s Logan Allen. That ended the scoring in one of the more decisive Oil Bowls.

Fleeks had the biggest play of the first half, but another area product came up with the only touchdown West Texas would need.

Graham’s Dillon Gonzales caught a pinpoint 45-yard touchdown pass from Burnet’s Derek Kiser (Tarleton State) on the fourth play from scrimmage. It was reminiscent of how the speedy playmaker torched 3A defenses last fall.

Gonzales finished the game with three catches for 57 yards and rushed three times for five yards. After hooking on with Midwestern State this fall at inside receiver, he’ll hope Saturday’s touchdown is the first of many to come at Memorial Stadium.

“I think we’re just getting started,” Gonzales said of his future with MSU. “The safety was in a really good position; you can’t get in a better position. (Kiser) just launched it out there and he trusts me. I just made the play.”

Fleeks made a few plays Saturday night, too. He’s guaranteed to play somewhere this fall, but maybe an MVP-worthy showing will elevate his stock.