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Long wins Gatorade player of the year

by: VERN UYETAKE  Steven Long recently won the Oregon Gatorade player of the year award recognizing the state’s top performer in football this season.

In its 27th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes,, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Steven Long of Lake Oswego High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Oregon Football Player of the Year. Long is the second Gatorade Oregon Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Lake Oswego High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Long as Oregon's best high school football player.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Long joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).

The 5-foot-7, 175-pound senior running back has led the Lakers to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 6A championship game against Sheldon High School, scheduled for Dec. 10.

Long rushed for 1,822 yards with 33 touchdowns on 235 carries through 12 games. A three-time First Team All-Conference selection, he has averaged a touchdown once every 7.1 touches this season and has averaged 11.1 yards per carry during the 2011 postseason.

Long has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple school fundraisers, as part of a substance abuse awareness campaign and as a youth sports referee and umpire.

'Steven Long is a special kid who has brought so much to our program,' said Lake Oswego High head coach Steve Coury. 'On and off the field, he has been superb all season long. We wouldn't be where we are without him.'

Long has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at Portland State University beginning in the fall of 2012.

Long joins recent Gatorade Oregon Football Players of the Year Brett Smith (2010-11, West Salem High School) Jordan Johnson (2009-10, Sheldon), Jack Lomax (2008-09, Lake Oswego High School) and Cory McCaffrey (2007-08, Sisters) among the state's list of former award winners.