Johnson, Jeffrey crack heads way 'Down Under'

Friday, August 1, 2003

A couple of Berryville football players who graduated this past May just weren't ready to hang the pads up, so they gave it one more try, this time down under.

Former Bobcats Micheal Johnson and Anthony Jeffrey hooked up with the Arkansas Down Under football team and traveled to Australia, along with 15 Arkansas players, two from Mississippi, three from New Jersey, and one from Maine.

The group met for the first time on Saturday, June 28, for two days of hard practice at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway under the direction of Coach Aldridge, who hailed from Southhaven, Miss.

Berryville's Doug Johnson was one of the dads that accompanied the team, along with Doug Darter, an assistant coach.

The team left Little Rock on Monday, June 30, traveled to Memphis, then to Los Angeles, where they picked up their final four players.

Then it was an incredible 14-and-a-half-hour plane ride to Sydney, where the team stayed for three days. They practiced in the mornings at the Olympic Park, and on free days went to the aquarium in Sydney and the Australia Mariner Museum.

The team also toured the H.M.A.S. Vampire, and a submarine, then were off to the Gold Coast for the games.

Morning practices were followed by trips to pineapple and sugar cane farms, and a zoo, where the team lucked out and saw the Crocodile Hunter of television fame.

Then it was time for some football. The Arkansas team downed a combined team from Alabama and Australia, 14-6, then lost a second game by one point, 21-20, to a combined team from Washington State and Minnesota.

"The team earned the Silver Medal," Doug Johnson said. "They represented the state very well. They were an exceptionally good bunch of young men. They all enjoyed the experience."

As for the players, Micheal summed it up pretty well.

"It's a nice place to visit. I just wouldn't want to live there," he said.

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