By Tim Chambers
When Johnson County’s head baseball coach Pete Pavusek was looking for the perfect components to grow his 2020 baseball team into championship form, he found a key seed among his son’s friends. Senior Colton Long hadn’t played since his freshman season, but Pavusek knew he had outstanding leadership skills.
Who would know better how to “plant” the seed for a championship season than Long, who was named the FFA East Tennessee Farmer of the year back in April of this year among nearly 100 high schools? Long was recognized statewide for his accomplishments. According to Pavusek, “you couldn’t find a better teammate anywhere.”
“He came in and worked hard in the offseason,” said Pavusek. “He was going to earn a lot of playing time for us. You couldn’t ask for a better kid on your team. He’s quiet, but he’s definitely a good leader. He was a joy to be around and have on the team.”
Long said he had played most of his life and was looking forward to returning to the diamond. He said it was hard when they learned that the season had been canceled.
“We were all looking forward to playing, and then all of us were pretty disappointed that the season got canceled,” added Long. “We all got together and started thinking of things we could do to spend time with each other and enjoy our time together. The guys on this team are very close, so we all like to hang out.”
Long said he was starting to get into the groove when the hammer came down.
“I felt much more comfortable the last game we played,” said Long. “It all started coming back to me, and I was starting to feel comfortable. I was searching for a way that I could contribute to the team. I wanted to be an instrumental part of a great season. We wanted it for Coach Pete.”
It was Pavusek’s son Petie that had a significant role in Colton returning to play his final year.
“He’s a super friend and player,” said Long about Petie. “And I love to be around Coach Pete. He has helped me a great deal, but Petie had the biggest influence on me.”
Long is the son of Travis and Cheri Long of Shady Valley. His mother is the principal at Roan Creek Elementary School, but Colton doesn’t plan on following in her footsteps.
“I want to be a farmer,” said Long, who admitted that his uncle Lonnie Long and grandfather Tony Long had been a big influence on him.
“All my teachers and administrators have been good to me,” said Long. “It would be hard to single just one out because I’ve loved all of them.”
Long’s most memorable moment as a Longhorn was when they homered six times in practice.
“Coach Pete was really excited that day,” said Long. “He could see a good season coming on.”
Long will attend Northeast State for two years before moving on to the University of Tennessee to major in agriculture business.
“I’m going to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise for two years at Northeast then move on to Knoxville at UT and finish my degree,” Colton said.
“Whatever Colton chooses to do, he’ll be successful,” said Coach Pavusek. “He’s the type of kid that is always going to get the job done.”