APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – Apex High School opponents are in for a surprise this season when No. 22 totes the ball.

Cougars senior running back Ian Bright is known for his battering-ram style of play. This year, he’s adding a twist to his game.

“Last year I was like 225 (pounds),” Bright said. “Everyone just considered me a fullback, and now I’ve slimmed down, but I still like hitting people and making contact.”

Some things never change. But this time, one thing did, and that is Bright’s workouts.

The Cougars standout tailored his off-season training toward getting leaner and faster.

Now, 25 pounds lighter but still stronger than a year ago, Bright said he’s looking forward to his final campaign.

“I’ve been grinding all summer,” Bright said. “I’m ready to get back to work. I feel a lot more explosive this season and ready to score some touchdowns.”

Bright scored plenty of those one year ago, finding paydirt 22 times while rushing for more than 1,300 yards. Most of his scores and yards came the hard way, through brute force in the trenches.

“Ian is used to just finding contact and running people over,” Apex head coach John Mozerka said. “We want to limit those shots as much as possible, and we think this year he’ll run away from some people, so we’re excited to see him.”

The old saying goes “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” so don’t look for Bright’s style of play to change all that much.

“I’ll hit someone if I need to,” Bright said with a smile. “But I’ll take it to the house if I need to.”