PALMYRA, Mo. -- Jarom Alexander was virtually unknown to opponents of the Palmyra football team through the first six weeks of the season last fall.
Then Week 7 rolled around.
Alexander had totaled just six carries in the first six games for 87 yards, but he churned out 221 rushing yards on 20 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns in a 35-0 rout over Clarence Cannon Conference opponent Centralia on Sept. 28.
He became another offensive weapon for Palmyra coach Kevin Miles, helping the Panthers go 9-3 before falling to Clark County in the Class 2 district championship game.
"That really helped me with my confidence," Alexander said. "The more carries, the more experience I got, the better I ran throughout the season."
After that game, Miles made sure to give Alexander more touches out of the backfield as a complement for fullback Peyton Plunkett.
"We made adjustments and moved guys around," Miles said. "It allowed us to be more successful."
Alexander became a force for the Panthers. He finished with 1,003 yards on 106 carries for a 9.5 average while scoring 11 touchdowns. He also caught eight passes for 163 yards and two scores, and he also took a kick return back for a touchdown.
"It was a blessing what he did," Miles said. "What he did in that position in that short amount of time was pretty amazing."
That gives Miles confidence that Alexander, listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, can carry a heavier workload this season, especially with the graduation of Plunkett, who was the team's leading rusher last season along with being named the Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Miles doesn't expect Alexander to shoulder the load alone.
"He'll come into the season with a target on his back," Miles said. "Plunkett came in with a target on his back last year, too. You just know it's going to happen, and we'll have to be able to do other things besides let Jarom carry the ball 40 or 50 times to win games for us."
Alexander doesn't believe he has to replicate what he did last season.
"I just have to trust my teammates and get to my blocks," he said. "I can't do that without them. It might be a little more difficult, but people know who I was after that Centralia game."
Miles is high on Brady Barnett among others to fill the defensive void left by Plunkett, who racked up 146 tackles last season. Palmyra's defense allowed just 10.3 points per game last season.
Palmyra has senior quarterback Jacob Kroeger returning for a third season under center. Miles expects him to dictate and control the offense this fall.
"(Kroeger) should have a really good handle of what we want to do," he said. "We look for him just continue his progress and leadership and lead us to a place we can be successful."
That means a district championship and farther.
"That's the goal," Miles said. "It doesn't really matter until Week 10. You want to make sure you're healthy and playing well at the right time of the year."