Video: Syracuse QB A.J. Long as a Freshman at Pius X (PA)

gamestrat high school football sideline instant replay

by Jeff Fisher

It was with great pleasure last week that I was able to watch Syracuse freshman quarterback A.J. Long play all but three offensive series in the Orange’s loss to top-ranked Florida State.  The true freshman, who earlier this week was named as the starter for tomorrow’s game against Wake Forest, completed 16-0f-27 passes with two going for touchdowns. Long also ran the ball three times for 20 yards.

While watching the Syracuse-Florida St. game, my mind drifted back to 2010 when I began shooting a documentary on the Pius X High School football team in Roseto, Pennsylvania. For decades, the tiny school nestled in the hills of northeast Pennsylvania, south of the Poconos, has been one of the smallest high school football programs in America.  The reason my mind drifted back four years ago was because Long was the freshman starting quarterback for the Royals.

Long, who also played at Pius X as a sophomore, before transferring to Friendship Christian High School in Tennessee for his junior and senior years, broke the Pennsylvania record for yards by a freshman when he completed 202-of-307 passes for 2,852 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Under head coach Phil Stambaugh‘s high-powered, pro-style offense, Long’s sophomore stats grew to 3,700 yards and 46 touchdowns with only nine picks. His completion percentage rose from .658 as a freshman to .673 as a sophomore.  His 46 TDs are the 7th most during a single season in Pennsylvania high school football history.

The dual threat QB also hurt teams with his legs during that sophomore season as he rushed for 931 yards and 17 touchdowns. Long averaged 8.5 yards per carry.

Had Long stayed at Pius, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have shattered Pennsylvania career yardage mark of 10,948 yards that is held by Matt Bodamer of Port Allegany High School.  Long’s two year Pius X totals were 6,552 yards with 74 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions in 622 pass attempts.

While Long’s Tennessee numbers never reached his Pius highs, he finished his career with 10,196 yards with 126 touchdowns and only 21 interceptions, according to MaxPreps.  To put Long’s numbers at Friendship Christian in perspective, he threw 301 passes in two years in Tennessee, which was less than his freshman (307) and sophomore (315) single-year totals.  His 76 touchdowns almost puts him almost in in the state’s Top 10 for career passing touchdowns.  The tenth guy on the list, Alec Werner of Bishop McDevitt, had 80 career TD tosses.

So with all of that as the backdrop, above you’ll see video of A.J. in the District XI Class A semifinal game against Williams Valley. Long had an incredible game with 357 yards passing with four touchdowns. Long also rushed for 76 yards.

Small Player Big Play

small player big play

No More Fumbles

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.