By Kevin Wilson
Les Long spent the 2002 football season proving he was one of the best in Class 3A. Two Saturdays ago, he proved himself to be the most valuable.
Long, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound fullback, was one of six Portales representatives in the Class 3A North-South All-Star football game, held July 12 in Las Vegas, N.M.
Long was named the game’s most valuable player, as he scored both touchdowns in the South’s 16-12 victory over the North. Long had 140 yards on 12 carries, one a 75-yard touchdown. His other score came on a 63-yard pass reception.
“It was good to see him up his level of play,” said Portales football coach Glen Johnson, who coached the South. “It was the best in 3A. He knew that and he rose to the occasion.”
A few years before Long transferred from Floyd, Class 3A didn’t have its own all-star game. When the state was realigned into five separate classes, the 3A North-South Games were created to prevent both under-representation in a 4A-5A game and over-representation in a 1A-2A game.
Long, who led Class 3A in rushing with 1,556 yards on 205 carries, would have stood a fair chance of playing in a game with 4A and 5A schools. However, he said he preferred the format that allowed him to play with the opponents he’d seen all year.
“If we had the bigger classes, it wouldn’t have been (as fun),” Long said. “But to have our own game, it felt pretty good.
“It was great because as soon as I got there a lot of the guys I’d played against, I became friends with them.”
Long’s Portales teammates at the game were Calvin Griffin, Leo Jimenez, Jeremy Jones, Chris Jones and Wes King. Only seniors are eligible for the game.
Since Long knew the offense already, he helped act as a teacher to players like Marcus Corley of Grants. Corley, like Long, signed on to play at Eastern New Mexico University this fall.
Long said he was impressed with some of his former opponents, including Lovington quarterback Caden Jameson.
“He is really good,” Long said. “They put him in on offense. He hit some guy and his helmet dented on the facemask.”
Even with all of the talent, Johnson said Long was still one of the most impressive players.
“Les had a good week of practice,” Johnson said. “It was good to see him play throughout the course of the week.”
Johnson will have to go to Greyhound Stadium on Saturdays to get a chance to see Long play from now on. Long said he is anxious to get started, and is even trying to get into a dormitory room early.
“But I don’t know why,” Long quickly countered. The largest dormitory room at ENMU would likely fit into the kitchen of Cottage No. 3 at the Christian Children’s Home, where Long currently lives.
Long will be reunited with teammates from Floyd’s 2000 six-man state champion team, including Fide Davalos and Bobby Reed, who plans to walk on to the Greyhound football team.
“(Davalos) told me it’s like the good old days,” Long said. “It’s like Floyd again.”
With or without his teammates, though, Long is ready for the next challenge.
“I’m just ready to play,” he said.