Longhorns Tapped For Australian Adventure

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A foursome of former PHS football players have their sights set on one last gridiron hurrah.

For those dreams to unfold, the athletes will have to earn $2,800 each to participate in the Novotel Beachcomber Down Under Bowl. The games will be played this summer on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia.

The athletes Sterling White, Dusty Brockett, Sean Hounshell and Steve Williamson were all standout members of last season's Longhorn football team.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the four received invitations from Tucson Baboquiravi coach Mark Frithsen who will coach the Arizona all-star team to join him and others in participating in the Down Under Bowl.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for you ... I hope you will give strong consideration to being a member of the team and taking part in this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Frithsen told the Payson players.

After consulting with other Longhorn athletes who have previously participated in the Australian event, the four agreed they'd like to become member of the Arizona celestial squad.

"I talked to Cable Morris (who went on a 1999 trip) and he said it was a blast," White said.

To earn the money for Australia and represent the state on the football field, the teenagers will conduct a variety of fund-raisers.

Among the strategies they are considering are a Down Under sports merchandise sale, recycling for cash, car wash, benefit steak dinner, auctions, garage sales, raffle tickets, and acquiring sponsors.

If the players can earn the money, they will depart for Australia sometime between June 4 and 30. The 13-day trip will include one day in Sydney, Australia, seven days on the Gold Coast of Australia and three days in Honolulu, Hawaii.

George Scanlon, president of International Sports Specialists which sponsors the event, said, the players will have "the chance to play, perform and interact with the local Australian and New Zealand public ... they act as ambassadors for America as they exemplify the great sporting traditions we love."

Game history

The Down Under Bowl, which had its origins in 1988, began with state football teams from Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho traveling to Australia to play against Aussie teams.

In the early years of the bowl, Payson was represented by such standouts as Jon Gunzel, Daniel Dunn and Brent Caulkins.

Since the inception, the bowl has grown to include teams from all 50 states and is now the largest American football tournament in Australia.

In 1997, all of the state football teams were brought together in one location the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia.

Instead of playing against outmatched Aussie teams, the gridiron squads now play star teams from other states. In less than one month, 48 teams play in 12 divisions. Each of these state teams play two games during their stay in Australia.

According to Frithsen, if the Arizona team wins its first game probably against Oregon it would qualify to take on the other winning squad in the four-team division.

In Arizona loses, it would play a second game against the division's other defeated team for third-place honors.

Following the games, all players are awarded souvenir medals.

Most of the U.S. teams will be accompanied by cheerleaders and dance/drill teams who perform at halftime and entertain the fans with sideline routines during the course of the game.

In addition to participating in the games, the athletes are exposed to a variety of Australian cultural activities including scuba diving, surfing, sailing and visits to several of the country's historical sights, including an Aborigine village.

The players

All four Payson athletes hoping to make the trip Down Under have been active on the Longhorn sports scene the past four years.

Last football season, White held down starting offensive/defensive tackle positions and earned All-East honors at the conclusion of the season.

In addition to earning all-region honors, he's been selected to participate in the Arizona Coaches Association All-Star game to be played this summer in Casa Grande.

As a fullback in the Horns power-option offense, Williamson was a lead blocker and short yardage ball carrier for the Longhorns. He was named All-East honorable mention and only recently wrapped up his basketball career at PHS.

Although Brockett suffered a broken collarbone midway through his senior season, he stamped himself as a junior as one of the best wide receivers and kickers in the East region. He also plays basketball.

As a wide receiver and corner back, Hounshell was one of the most versatile players in the Longhorn arsenal. At season's end, he was tapped for the coach's award which is given to the player who demonstrates dependability and character throughout the season.

To help the youngsters make the trip to Australia, call White (474-5043), Brockett (474-8804), Hounshell (474-9277) or Williamson (474-5121).

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