SAN ANTONIO – Brandeis senior running back Marlon Flores-Flores doesn’t play defense, but he does just about everything else for the Broncos.
Besides being Brandeis’ leading rusher, Flores-Flores uses his skills as a standout soccer player to kick extra points and field goals and handle the team’s kickoff and punting duties.
Flores-Flores was at his best in the Broncos’ 35-28 victory against Clark last week, rushing for 321 yards on 36 carries, an 8.9 average, and two touchdowns. His single-game rushing total ranks third in Brandeis history.
“I just knew I had to pound the rock, keep it going for the team,” Flores-Flores said Thursday. “I was very tired after the game. I slept very well that night.”
Noah Copeland, who went on to an outstanding career at Navy, set the Broncos’ single-game rushing record with 353 yards against Holmes in 2008. He also ran for 322 yards against Pflugerville in 2009.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Flores-Flores has lived in San Antonio with his family since he was in the fifth grade. His brother, Joel Jr., graduated from Brandeis in 2015 and played linebacker for the Broncos.
“Coach Campbell had the idea of putting me in the same position as my brother,” Flores-Flores said, referring to then-head coach John Campbell. “But I knew it wasn’t my position. My brother liked tackling people. I do like tackling people, but I enjoy running the ball more than tackling.”
Flores-Flores will be in the starting lineup when Brandeis (4-1) starts zone play in District 28-6A against Taft (0-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gustafson Stadium. The Broncos have gone unbeaten since losing to Johnson 31-28 in their season opener.
Flores-Flores, 5-foot-10, and 195 pounds has rushed 94 times for 836 yards (8.9 average) and six TDs in only four games. He missed Brandeis’ 49-33 victory against Boerne Champion on Sept. 14 with a sore back.
First-year Broncos head coach David Branscom was succinct Thursday when he was asked what Flores-Flores does well as a running back.
“Everything,” Branscom said.
A safety on the varsity as a sophomore, Flores-Flores moved to running back last year and split time with senior Ryan McGowen.
“We were just trying to get the most out of him (Flores-Flores), and we had some concerns about our tailback situation,” Branscom said. “We moved the McGowen kid from the secondary, and they were kind of a tandem last year. Marlon changed dramatically when he went to offense.”
Branscom was defensive coordinator under Jeff Fleener for two seasons before getting promoted after Fleener resigned early this year to become head coach at Mesquite.
Flores-Flores didn’t start on defense as a sophomore, but Branscom has no doubt he would have developed into a standout safety.
“He played a considerable amount on defense,” Branscom said. “We miss him on defense right now. Marlon is the best tackler on our team. He does everything well. There’s nothing he can’t process and do for you."
“We have fakes in our punt where he’s throwing the ball. He can do it all. He’s as natural an athlete as they get. He’s strong. He’s got great feet. He doesn’t look like he’s smooth in his transition laterally but, man, he’s smoother than you think.”
While Flores-Flores is a standout on the football field, he leaves no doubt about where his heart lies.
“I like soccer more,” he said. “That’s my future. I have a passion for it. When I play soccer, I’m nervous but I’m enjoying it. I get more nervous in football because I don’t want to mess up and bring down my teammates. I have more fun playing soccer because I’m more confident. It’s more natural.”
Flores-Flores has been playing football and soccer since he was 4-years-old.
“I play football because I’ve been playing it all these years,” he said. “I don’t want to let my teammates down. My dad has told me that if I want to, I can quit football and stick to soccer because that’s going to be my future. But I told him that I might as well do this last year and make it count. The team is counting on me and I would feel bad if I quit. It wouldn’t be right.”
Flores-Flores’ daily schedule is a grind during football season because he also plays for a select soccer team, Classics Elite, in the fall. He leaves football practice early on Mondays and Wednesdays to make his soccer workouts. Classic Elite plays on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We’ve learned a lot about managing him because we know he gets tired,” Branscom said. “He’s always been a key player for us, even when he wasn’t starting. Literally, the last two games, he’s been standing over an extra point after scoring, watching the clock go because he’s trying to catch his breath. It’s crazy.”
Flores-Flores spends most of his summers playing soccer in Monterrey. His father, Joel Flores Sr., is an industrial engineer and still has business interests in Mexico.
Flores-Flores’ goal is to play college soccer at Virginia Tech.
For now, though, he wants to do everything he can to help the Brandeis football team have a successful season.
“When they told me I would be starting at running back because I was the only one with experience, I took it as a challenge,” Flores-Flores said. “I had to show them. Now I have to be the one to lead.”
Considering his torrid pace in the first half of the season, Flores-Flores has set a good example for his teammates.