GRANGER — The lure of the game simply proved too much.
After two seasons away from the dugout, former Perry skipper Mike Long was recently named the new head baseball coach at Woodward-Granger. He takes over for Eric Evans, who leaves after 10 years and with a 173-111 (.609) with the Hawks to become coach at Des Moines Roosevelt.
Long spent 41 total seasons at Perry, where he compiled a 720-420 (.632) record. He led the Bluejays to second place in 1987, 1991, and 1998 and guided the team to the 1999, 2002, and 2004 state tournaments as well.
“I never wanted to quit coaching, but just felt like maybe I needed a break,” Long said. “I had followed Woodward-Granger for awhile and liked what I saw, and when the opening became available I decided it might be time to see if I can still do it.”
“Doing it” remains in little doubt, as Long is one of the winningest coach in Iowa prep history. He inherits a team that was 18-5 last season, but which lost 11 seniors to graduation. Some varsity experience returns, but a strong youth program in the community will hardly leave the proverbial cupboard bare.
“That is the key to it all — if you don’t have kids playing as youngsters you won’t have any once they get to high school,” Long said. “It certainly appears that is not a problem here (at W-G).”
Evans was aggressive on the base paths and often had the Hawks bunt, both of which fit in perfectly with Long’s well-established small-ball approach.
“I am looking forward to the challenge,” Long said. “It will definitely be different at first, learning a whole new set of players, but I think I know how to do it.”
Based on Long’s history and the recent success of the Hawks it appears plenty of victories will remain the standard in Granger.