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Coach Long returns to help out Falcons
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Darrell Long contemplated retirement after the 2004 season.

"We convinced him to come back for one more year," said Willie Solorio, first-year president of the Ceres Falcons football and cheerleading organization.

"I've been with them since their founding year," Long said. "I know I'm probably well past my time."

Long, 49, decided to return for his 11th season to make sure the organization endured. The Falcons just ended their 10-year marriage with the Trans-Valley Youth Football League. They joined the National Youth Football League.

"I wanted to make sure the transition to the new league and the reason and purpose for the Falcons' existence remained," Long said.

Long has been head coach at the varsity level since 1999. He coached the JV squad for four years (1995-98).

"I've never had a kid in a game," Long said. "It's always been me and the support of my family.

"Bottom line, it's all about the development of Ceres youth."

Last season, Long claimed the TVYFL Coach of the Year Award. He was recognized for his long-standing commitment.

"I was flattered," Long said.

"I was up against some pretty stiff competition."

Long said he's going to spend more time with his family and travel after he retires from coaching.

Darrell and Cindy have been married for 28 years. They have two children, Drew, 19, and Tristin, a 2005 Ceres High graduate. Tristin plays water polo at Modesto Junior College.

Darrell also wants to finish his master's degree so he can teach part-time.

In October, Long will decide if he wants to continue his professional career. He's worked for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department for 28 years.

"We'll evaluate at that time," said Long, who turns 50 in December. "I keep saying that because things can change."

The Longs might relocate to Texas. Darrell's younger brother, Jarrell, 47, lives in Amarillo. Darrell and Jarrell both enjoy fishing.

"We've been looking at lake-front property," Darrell said.

Long is looking forward to the 2005 season, which gets underway on Aug. 27. The Falcons play against the Brentwood Patriots at Calvary Temple Christian School in Modesto.

"I'm more confident this year because we seem to be pretty diverse in every position," Long said.

"I fully expect to be competitive."

The Falcons are also going to play with class.

"Win, lose or draw, I want them to come out with the right attitude," Long said. "Sportsmanship is important."

Around 27 Falcons practiced in helmets and pads for the first time last week at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School.

Long and his staff, which includes offensive coordinator Jeff Kimura and defensive coordinator Paul Morris, evaluated talent.

"We're working on tackling, throwing and catching," Long said. "Everything other than that is conditioning. We want to get everybody's conditioning up. We want to finish strong at the end of games." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier