YOUNGSVILLE - Dylan Long's playing days are over. The former McNeese State running back now lives in Youngsville with his wife, whom he met in college, and together will soon bring home a new born.
Much like he used to do to opposing defenses, Hurricane Laura left a bruise on Lake Charles, a place he fell in love in and with.
"It hurt that much deeper to me, because I know the kind of people that are there," reflects Long, "They will give you the shirt off their back, and now they need somebody to do that (same) thing in return."
The storm, along with the pandemic, has created unique challenges for the Cowboys. It's a challenge that will take team leaders to overcome.
Adds Long, "If i was a team captain right now, I'd be reaching out to all the younger guys and saying, 'Hey, we're gonna press through this. We will be a team.'"
While Dylan Long isn't a leader in the locker room anymore, his is former teammate, starting Quarterback Cody Orgeron (son of LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron) is a current leader. Not only did they share the same colors, they also share a love for the McNeese community.
The two, who still keep up, met the other day on Zoom.
Asks Long, "What does lake charles mean to you?"
"It's my home," replies Orgeron, "Everything. You know, I love Lake Charles. They opened me and my brother up with open arms and you know, I'll never forget that. I'll always give back to Lake Charles as much as I can."
Although McNeese won't be playing football this fall, the Louisiana football community hasn't forgotten about their Southwest Louisiana counterparts. In recent weeks teams like the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns sent a caravan of supplies to McNeese State.
Explains Orgeron, "It's kind of an eye-opening experience with all these schools coming back with 18-wheelers, dropping us off all these different supplies, helping us out. You know that tight knit (community), it's an unbreakable bond and we really truly appreciate every school that has been reaching out."
It's a long road to recovery, but for Long and Orgeron, it's a goal worth fighting for.
As their Zoom session ended Orgeron said, "You know it's family forever. Geaux Pokes." Orgeron then threw up the Cowboys hand singal.
Long simply responded, "Geaux Pokes, baby," tossing up the signal of his Alma Mater's football team in return.