The Courier-Post will highlight an area football player to watch this upcoming season with kickoff rapidly approaching.

Damien French

School: Hannibal

Year: Junior

Position: Running back

Height: 6-2

Weight: 200

The stats: Ran for team-high 1,390 yards and 21 touchdowns on 186 carries. Averaged 7.4 yards per carry and 105.7 yards per game.

Why watch: French was a welcome surprise to the Pirates backfield last season that was needing someone to step up. French did that in the season opener by rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the loss to Jefferson City Helias.

However, he won’t surprise anyone this season as he and Daylan Reading will split carries in the backfield. But French’s size and strength should allow him to shoulder the load for Hannibal this season.