EFFINGHAM (WCIA) — Making a bet with his coach was just one of the reasons Effingham junior Weldon Dunston wants to reach 1,000 rushing yards this season.

“If I could pass his rushing yards he’d get me some McDonalds or something,” Dunston said.

The running back needs 20 yards to win the bet with a few games to spare. With nine touchdowns, Dunston has helped the Flaming Hearts with their 2-1 start to play in the Apollo Conference.

“It means a lot to me to put a lot of weight on my shoulders, but I also cannot do it on my own,” Dunston said. “I need my whole team behind me. I need my O-line in front of me and then defensively as well.”

“He’s such a physical runner for no bigger than he is,” Flaming Hearts head coach Brett Hefner said. “He’s made some explosive runs just off finishing runs hard for us.”

This kind of production is nothing new for Dunston, running for 714 yards and 10 touchdowns on varsity as a sophomore. But Hefner says he has seen a big change in Dunston in just one year.

“The thing that I’ve been proud of him this year more so from last year is the growth, just the toughness in finishing runs and things like that,” Hefner said. “It’s a position where last year as a sophomore playing varsity we went through some struggles where he got knocked around a bit.”

“He’s took a lot of weight off my shoulders being such a good rusher,” senior quarterback Gage Gillum said. “Whenever I don’t have to do as much work it really helps me out.”

Dunston is likely to win his bet this week, but the Flaming Hearts will need more than 20 yards from him in a tough conference game on the road against the 5-1 overall Mahomet Seymour for the WCIA 3 Friday Football Fever Spotlight game of the Week.