2015 Football: MMA’s Long looking to build on success in backfield

Massanutten Military Academy's Jake Long performs a squat in the weight room at the Woodstock military school. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Jake Long didn’t know what to expect when he was asked to fill in for Tyler Draddy at fullback halfway through last season.

Despite being a little unsure of himself, Long found himself to be a natural in the backfield and finished the season strong.

“When Draddy got hurt, mid-season, I found out that I was actually a lot better at running the ball than actually playing defense,” Long said. “I focused more on offense the rest of the year.”

Long had been playing at outside linebacker for the Colonels, but suddenly realized he had a real knack for running with the ball.

He helped the Colonels to two wins in their last five games of the season. First-year MMA coach Buster Davis said that he loves Long’s bruising-style of running.

“He’s a hard-nosed kid, one who hopefully can carry the ball 20 times a game for us,” Davis said. “He can run the ball effectively, efficiently and (he is) someone who can definitely help us create an identity.”

One of the things that Davis said he likes about Long is the way he runs straight ahead and really attacks a defense.

“I think the biggest thing for him is he is a kid that’s going to run north and south, he’s not a kid that’s going to run east and west,” Davis said. “So you know when he gets in that backfield he’s coming right at you.”

Davis said that fits perfectly with the type of style the Colonels want to use throughout the season.

“We want hard-nosed kids who are willing to get better and work hard at their craft every day. That’s the type of kids we want,” Davis said. “We have the attitude that we’re going to run the power, we’re going to run the lead. You know we’re going to run it, the question is are you going to be able to stop it? He’s that type of running back that I believe we’re going to be able to create that out of him this year.”

Last year was Long’s first year at MMA after transferring from Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.

While he said MMA is different from his old school, Long said he really likes it there and he is getting more and more used to it.

“I wasn’t doing too well in public schools, and then I came here and I like it and I’m excelling,” Long said. “I definitely feel a lot more comfortable.”

Long said that he is hoping to play at either a D-II or D-III college next season, preferably one with a Reserves Officers’ Training Corps program.

After a winless season two years ago, the Colonels responded with two wins last year. Long said he came from a strong program in Neshaminy and was hoping for more wins last season.

With a new coach and some players back from last year’s squad, Long said he believes this year’s team can be more successful.

“It feels like we have a lot more potential than we did last year, so that’s good,” Long said. “Hopefully we can win a few more games.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com