Long brings offensive background, big-name assistant to Kelly Catholic

A return to Kelly Catholic was always on Mike Long’s mind, even though his career and family issues kept him away from Beaumont.

More than a decade ago, Long left his position as coach of the Bulldogs football team to take up a position as an offensive assistant at Clear Creek High School in League City. This move brought him closer to his parents at the time, as he helped look after them.

“When I first left, I always hoped I could come back,” Long recalled.

Related: Long Leaving Kelly After 2010 Season

So when Jason Smith left his position as head coach of Kelly last month to take a job on the staff of West Brook, Long was immediately intrigued by the Bulldogs’ openness. Twelve years after his first stint as Kelly’s head coach ended, Long returned to Beaumont on Monday and was once again touted as the Bulldogs’ leader.

Standing side-by-side with Bishop of Beaumont David Toups and Kelly’s headmaster, Dr. Tyrus Doctor, in the school gymnasium, Long sported a smile from ear to ear as he addressed the small crowd of players, staff and media gathered for his presentation.

“He’s also a cardinal (Lamar), which means he outclasses me as a bishop,” Toups said as he turned to hug Long. “We are grateful for his ‘yes’ and want to come back.”

It was a “full loop” moment for Long, who had his fair share of success along the way.

“There are great people here, from players to boosters,” Long said of his return to Kelly. “I really think we can win here.”

Long made several practice stops at Clear Creek and Galveston Ball, but most Southeast Texas football fans will remember Long for his time in Port Neches-Groves. He served as offensive coordinator in 1999 when PN-G finished second in the state 4A, only falling to Stephenville in the state championship game.

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Long worked directly with his son, Dustin Long, who coached PN-G that year through the title game and played collegiately at Texas A&M. The elder Long has fond memories of his time at PN-G and upon his return to Kelly will now bring a former colleague of his time to Port Neches with him.

Matt Burnett, who led PN-G to 96 wins, five district titles and the 1999 championship game as head coach, will team up with Long again more than two decades later. This time, Burnett will serve as Long’s defensive coordinator to Kelly.

“Coaching my son was one of the best times of my life,” Long said. “Those kids (at PN-G) weren’t necessarily the best athletes, but they played hard and wanted to win. That’s what I want to try to do here.

During his first stint at Kelly, Long won a district title in 2007 but finished with an overall record below .500 in six seasons. He will look to set up an air raid broadcast system using the play option with whoever wins Kelly’s open quarterback job. Long said the system wouldn’t be too different from what the Bulldogs did offensively last year under Smith.

Last year’s Bulldogs starting quarterback Roy Thomas Jenkins, a highly recruited sophomore, decided to leave school this offseason and attend West Brook. The quarterback spot will be one of many up for grabs during camp, Long said.

Long plans to start full-time at Kelly next week. His first task will be to continue to build his coaching staff and meet the players of the program. He wants to launch a 7v7 action as soon as possible.

“Yes, we have places to fill, and we’re about a month late, but I can’t wait to meet all these kids and get started,” he said.

Matt Faye is a sportswriter and columnist for Beaumont Enterprise. Contact him at MFaye@BeaumontEnterprise.com or on Twitter by clicking here.

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