A.J. Long's Friendship Christian squad is coming down the home stretch of their 2013 season. They finished their second to last regular season game on Friday and came out on top.
"We won 57-18," Long said. "We got the ball and on the very first play of the game I threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to my running back. It was a post route and he was just gone. They went three and out and we got the ball back. Two plays later, I ran it in from like 45-yards out. Then our two running backs scored on the next two possessions. Then I threw a touchdown pass to our other running back who's going to end up playing receiver in division two or division 1AA if he chooses to.
"I can't even remember how we scored the other times. The last touchdown the first team scored was to our running back Austin Taylor who ran another post route. He took it like 70-yards. Then our JV had a safety and that was basically the game."
Since returning from a concussion that kept him out three games, Long has taken his game to a new level. He believes it is the result of his hard work and younger players gaining experience.
"Before I was playing with guys that knew the position they were playing," Long said. "This year it's a bunch of inexperienced guys that are still learning. I think this year is by far my best year of football. I'm continuing to do the things I've done in the past, but with a bunch of younger guys and inexperienced guys, still putting them in position to make plays. The past couple of weeks I'd say I've played better football than I ever have in my life."
With only one game remaining, Friendships Christian's place in the standings is pretty well set. While they won't finish on top in their division, they are set to host the first round of the playoffs.
"We're going to stay second in our division because the team ahead of us has an easy game next week," Long said. "So they'll finish out on top. We have one more game next week against a decent opponent who we have to make sure we come out and play our game against. The week after that is the first week of the playoffs. We will have a first round home game."
On the recruiting front, Syracuse got some bad news over the last week with two players decommitting. One came as more of a surprise than the other.
"As much as I said over the past couple of weeks that Jason would stay and we though we still had him, behind closed doors, me and Z (Zaire Franklin) and K.J. (Williams) and the other commits didn't feel comfortable about it," Long said. "Just knowing that it was his dream school and how he talked about it and how he started interacting with us less and less, it didn't come to us as much of a shock as Beau. Once we found out that Wisconsin was his dream school and being from Wisconsin, that made sense. Just like Ohio kids want to go to Ohio State.
"The Beau decommit is not as big of a deal as Jason's because now we have to find two more linebackers to fill the void of Syracuse losing their five core linebackers. That gives us another job to do there. But we're confident we'll get Nile Sykes and then we'll only have one void to fill there. As far as that goes, we wish them the best of luck. But when we play them, it's a grudge match because of what they did."
"I'm really not sure," Long said. "We're still looking at which guys to go after. I know Aaron has been looking around to try to find offensive linemen. I know he's been talking to James McHale to try to pull him away from Temple because they aren't doing to well this year even with the class they're bringing in."