Cable Morris was a day late heading Down Under.
While tapped as the lone Payson player selected for Australia's Down Under Bowl, Morris had to postpone his flight a day to serve as best man for his cousin's wedding. As soon as the last toast was offered, the Longhorn hopped a plane and headed west.
"I met up with the team from Minnesota in Los Angeles, and flew on to Sidney with them," Morris said. "I met up with my team and spent the night in Sidney, then headed to the Gold Coast."
A 1999 graduate of Payson High School, Morris was selected for the 11th Annual Down Under Bowl journey to Australia by the International Sports Specialists --the governing body of the bowl games.
PHS coach Jim Beall said Morris was selected for the trip due to his character, confidence and integrity.
Upon arriving on the Gold Coast, Morris and his teammates began practicing for their match against the team from Montana.
"We played that game June 30, and lost 12 to 6," Morris said. "It was really difficult, though. We were playing in about eight inches of mud."
The day after their trouncing by Montana, the Arizona team hit the field again "for a little fine tuning."
A member of the 1998 Longhorns state champions, Morris said he led the Arizona team in tackles and rushing, "and I blocked two kicks," he said.
One of those blocks almost sidelined the champ for the remainder of the trip.
"In our last game, against Hawaii, I thought I broke my ankle," he said.
"I was the block man when they were punting. I went through and hit the guy hard and he flew and blocked the punt. I was going for the ball, I had it and was down on my right knee. I was sunk in mud, and kind of twisted my ankle."
Injury doesn't spoil trip
With a few days left in Sidney, and four more in Hawaii, the hardy Horn would not succumb to his injury.
"I just strapped on a couple of ankle braces, popped a couple Ibuprofen, and kept moving," he said.
"I wasn't going to let a hurt ankle spoil something like this trip."
For years, Payson has sent some of its finest players to Australia, and most have returned with the same likes and dislikes. They were enamored by the people and the beauty of the countryside, and all agreed: Vegemite is gross.
"I didn't think it was that bad," he said. Vegemite is a yeast-like spread that Australians use on many foods -- especially toast -- much like Americans use butter or peanut butter.
"I was surprised at the food, though," he said. "It was really bland, not spicy at all. The meat pies were good, though. Those were full of roast beef and gravy. But, what I really wanted was Mexican food."
The Longhorn got to visit an amusement park, try his hand at bungee jumping, walk the beaches -- " the sand was so clean it squeaked" --and stopped at some of the more tourist-oriented places like the Sidney Opera House.
In Hawaii, Morris and his newfound buddies rented a Jeep and a Camaro to tour the island.
"Most of the guys just wanted to stay on the beach at Waikiki," he said. "We wanted to get out and see the island."
Back on the mainland, Morris has unpacked his memories and is now preparing for Mesa Community College.
"It was an incredible trip, though," he said. "I know I'll go back there someday."