Tommy Long, who is the L-L League’s all-time leading rusher, is returning to his roots as the athletic director at Annville-Cleona.
Tommy Long, who is the L-L League's all-time leading rusher, is returning to his roots as the athletic director at Annville-Cleona. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS FILE)
Not that he ever really left, but Tommy Long is coming home. At least in a professional sense.

The former Lebanon Catholic football star is in line to become the new athletic director at Annville-Cleona High School, pending approval from the A-C school board Thursday night.

Annville-Cleona superintendent Steve Houser informed the Daily News on Wednesday that Long is the district's pick to succeed Karen Evans, who recently stepped down as AD to take an assistant principal position in the Manheim Township School District.

Lebanon County scholastic football's all-time leading rusher after accumulating 5,654 yards during a brilliant career at Lebanon Catholic, Long, a 1997 LC alum, has been serving as the athletic director at Ephrata High School since mid-2007.

But, assuming approval from the A-C school board, Long's place of employment is about to change, and his drive to work is about to become a lot shorter.

Though he's been working at Ephrata for the last five years, Long has remained a Lebanon County guy, residing in North Cornwall Township near Cleona with his wife, Jean, and their three young children.

"It's extremely exciting for many reasons," Long said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "The big one is being able to work in a job I love in the county I grew up in. And to be able to do it five minutes from my home, where I get to see my family and my kids more often. It's absolutely a perfect fit for me."

Annville-Cleona not only fits Long from a professional and family perspective, but also from a personal one.


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A small-town, small-school guy at heart, Long enjoyed his time at Ephrata and made a point of noting he is very appreciative of the professional opportunity the district gave him five years ago. But he's anxious to get back to his roots, so to speak.

"I said in my interview, I've always been a small-school person," he said. "I went to Cedar Crest, but I was more comfortable at Lebanon Catholic. I went to Millersville (for college), but I was more comfortable at Lebanon Valley. I've always been more comfortable in a small-school environment."

Prior to his move into athletic administration, Long enjoyed a three-season stint - from 2004-06 - as the baseball coach at Catholic, and also spent time as an assistant football coach at Palmyra and Lebanon between 2003 and 2007.

And during his playing days he starred on both the gridiron and the baseball diamond, playing both sports at the collegiate level as well as scholastically.

Ironically, Long will now be the "boss" of people he once played against as a kid, including longtime A-C football coach Terry Lehman.

"It's like coming full circle," Long said. "It's funny how life evolves into that situation and brings you around like that."

Just exactly when Long, who will also hold the title of assistant principal at A-C, will begin his new job is still up in the air.

Assuming he's officially hired Thursday night and hands in his letter of resignation at Ephrata on Friday, Long could still be obligated to Ephrata for an additional 60 days per terms of his employment there.

If Ephrata does decide to keep him for an additional 60 days - Long noted he's not sure what's the district's plan is in that regard - he wouldn't be available to A-C until roughly mid-November.

But whenever he does start at his new job, Long will be ready to hit the ground running.

"Karen did a nice job, and I hope I can build on that foundation," Long said. "It's an exciting challenge. From what I know, the people at Annville are good people, hard-working and blue-collar. It's a perfect fit."