Syracuse commit A.J. Long is closing in on the end of his senior season. But before it ends, he has business to attend to in the playoffs. The first round was this past week, and it went well for his Friendship Christian squad.
"We won 51-33," Long said. "It was crazy because it didn't feel like a playoff game. We played the team that we faced the first week of the season all over again. It didn't feel like we were in the playoffs, it felt more like week one. It was a weird feeling to have.
"But once the game started, you could tell it was nowhere near week one because both teams were way better than we had been in the previous meeting. Just the game itself, it started out fast. On the first play, I rolled out to the left and threw a 24-yard pass to one of my receivers, Austin Taylor. We then ran the ball to the right and gained another 17-yards.
"We were gashing them," Long continued. "Then on that first drive, just to cap it off, we had a 50-plus yard touchdown pass to my other receiver. That broke 10,000-yards and was my 125th career touchdown pass. That was pretty cool to have that in my last first round of the playoffs. Just to break that was good. Outside of that, the rest of the game was a shoot out. Both teams went back and forth until we got a few stops, and that was that."
With that game already in the rearview mirror, Long is focused on the next task at hand.
"Our game is in Memphis and we have to play St. George Academy," Long said. "They're a very good football team. They're fundamentally sound. They have playmakers all over the field. They do a lot of what the team we played last week does. Those teams are arch rivals so it's kind of weird to get them back to back.
"All teams from Memphis run up-tempo games. They run a lot of motions and use a lot different guys because they have the players to be able to do that. On defense, they do the same thing. They run a 40 with sometimes mixing in a 30. But most of the time they want to man up with you and blitz you to death. They want to blitz and cause you to make quick decisions. It should be the same as last week but against a better opponent."
Going into the playoff battle, Long says his team is confident they can pull of the road victory.
"Our team confidence is pretty high," Long said. "We have a few guys that are shaken up. My starting center actually got mono, so right now we're trying to make sure he can play on game day because he plays both ways for us. Not having him would be a huge void that we would have to fill. Outside of that, our confidence level is through the rought and we're just trying to make sure it stays there."
While Long was focused on his on the field business, he was also was able to watch his future team get a big win over Maryland.
"Reading about Wilmeth Sidat-Singh before the game, I wanted to see that ceremony," Long said. "It was cool to see that. Just the game itself, it was great to see the defense did what you knew they were capable of and did in the Big East now finally taking shape and doing what they need to do.
"The offensive line, it was great to see that the offense is progressing. You look at it now and imagine with the guys we have coming in with what they have now. It helps to have more playmakers available. To have more people to have them worried. That game I enjoyed watching."