UNION CITY -- When asked recently what he likes about football, James Logan High running back/linebacker Warren Miles Long paused and thought about the question for a few seconds.
Then he said, "It's a thinking game. You have to know what you are doing."
That response isn't surprising. Long is a self-described "academics guy" who holds a 3.8 grade-point average and chose to attend Northwestern next fall largely because of its academic reputation.
But Long isn't just intelligent, he is also one of the top two-way players in the East Bay for the third-seeded Colts (12-1) and could be a major factor in Saturday's North Coast Section Division I title game against No. 1 De La Salle (12-0) at Dublin High. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
"He's got great vision, keeps his feet moving, which means he breaks a lot of tackles. That's what impresses me most about him," said Terry Eidson, who's been De La Salle's defensive coordinator since 1991. "He gets a lot of his yards after first contact."
During the regular season, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Long rushed for a modest 934 yards and 10 touchdowns -- averaging 9.6 yards per carry. But he was limited to less than 10 carries in six lopsided wins.
The NCS playoffs have been a different story.
In the Colts' three postseason wins, Long had a combined 644 yards on 50 carries and 10 TDs. In last week's semifinal matchup with No. 2 California, Long ran for 143 yards and three scores in a 40-7 win.
"You have to wrap up, slow him down, gang-tackle," Eidson said. "We have to get him to run sideways, not downhill."
Long has been a mainstay in the Colts backfield since his sophomore season. He rushed for 1,314 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, and 1,545 yards as a sophomore.
"He's always played at a high level," Colts coach George Zuber said. "His vision has gotten better. He is more confident running up the middle."
Long also mentioned that he has improved this season in being "more reliable as far as not losing yardage, sticking my head down for four to five yards if it's there."
This is the first season that Logan has been an independent team, and it has worked out well for the Colts.
"Obviously the more top quality teams you can play, the better," said Zuber, who also confirmed the Colts will play the Spartans in the regular season next year. "The regular season worked out great for us."
Now the Colts will be playing in the NCS Division I championship game.
"It was one of my goals I set out my freshman year," Long said.
That's smart thinking.
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Division II championship
Division IV championship
Division I championship
Division III championship