TTHS player looks to bowl over Aussies ‘Down Under’
Nineteen-year-old Kevin Morgan currently has two desires in his life – he wants to travel as much as possible and continue playing football past high school.
And as a lineman for the Nevada All-Star football team scheduled to leave for Brisbane, Australia, July 23 and appear in the “Down Under Bowl,” Morgan has the ideal opportunity to pursue both of his priorities at one time.
“It’s going to be a dream trip,” said Morgan, who graduated from Tahoe-Truckee High School in June and was a member of the Wolverines’ state championship football team. “I’ve always wanted to travel and Australia is the best place I can think of to travel to. I’ve heard so many good things about Australia; I can’t wait to go.”
The Down Under Bowl is not one single football game, but rather a series of football games in Australia pitting All-Star football teams from 24 U.S. states against each other and top high school age football teams in Australia. Morgan is scheduled to play two games for the Nevada All-Stars, including a game against the Hawaiian All-Stars July 27 and the Brisbane All-Stars July 31.
Morgan, who was the only one of eight invited Truckee players to accept an invitation to play in the Down Under Bowl, had to raise about $2,500 to participate. He created a media packet and raised the money through donations of friends, family and several Truckee businesses.
Morgan’s adventure begins Saturday as he travels to Ely for four days of practice with the Nevada All-Stars. The coach of the team is Jeff Knutson, the football coach for White Pine High School.
Two of Morgan’s teammates on the Nevada All-Stars are former North Tahoe High School players Joe Stokes and Jeff Hill. Morgan said any animosity between the players created by the North Tahoe vs. Truckee rivalry has long since vanished.
“Hopefully, I’ll room with those guys,” Morgan said. “Now that I’m playing with them, it’s a whole new situation. The rivalry is for high school; that’s over now.”
Although football (or “gridiron,” as it’s known “Down Under) is not as popular as rugby or Australian Rules Football in Australia, Morgan anticipates some tough competition while playing the Aussies.
“I don’t know how good they will be, but if they are the top players from Brisbane, they must know what they’re doing,” said Morgan, who is 6’2″ and 235 pounds, “Being at home, they’ll be ready for the game, no matter what.”
Morgan’s itinerary won’t consist entirely of football practice while he’s in Australia; he’ll have plenty of free time to explore sites such as “Aussie World,” Australia’s version of “Seaworld” and an island off the coast of the resort town of Surfer’s Paradise.
“I’m hoping to check out all of the Australian animals and see all of the scenery on the Australian coast,” Morgan said. “I think we also might get the chance to investigate some old moats and some swamps.”
Following his return from Australia (and a few days in Hawaii with his family), Morgan will head for Chico Aug. 15 to begin practicing football with Butte Junior College, the school he will attend next fall.
“Butte has a good program,” said Morgan, who hopes to continue playing football at a four-year university following his two years at Butte. “One of the Truckee coaches, Darren Veliquette, inspired me to go to Butte because he had gone there and he always told me how their team was ‘a family’ like Truckee’s team and how they care about your education.”
One thing Morgan isn’t too concerned about is the fact that he will be visiting Australia during the Southern Hemispere’s winter.
“I thought ‘oh, no’ more snow,” Morgan said. “But then I talked to some people and found out that there won’t be any chance of snow in Brisbane. Anyway, it wouldn’t have been as bad as our winter.”
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Students from North Tahoe and Truckee recently made the trip to Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley to compete in the annual Kays Ostrom Invitational.