SPORTS HEADLINES

Playing ball down under; Decatur’s Levi Rust gets opportunity to play in Australia

By Clay Corbett | Published Saturday, July 27, 2013

Levi Rust never dreamed he would have a chance to play football in Australia. That all changed with a letter he received this summer.

GOLDEN FINISH – Levi Rust and the “Texas” team won both their games to capture the gold medal at the Down Under Bowl. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Rust was notified that he had been chosen to play in the Down Under Bowl in Brisbane, Australia.

The two-game event was inaugurated in 1989 and established to promote American-style football to the people of New Zealand and Australia, which they refer to as “gridiron football.”

Although it has been a long-standing event in Australia a lot of people have never heard of it.

“At first we thought it wasn’t real because we had never heard of it,” Rust said. “We had to look it up and see if it was actually real.”

Once Rust and his mom Amy got verification she gave her son permission to participate.

Decatur’s head football coach Kyle Story gave his blessing too, telling Rust to just not get hurt.

A few big names have played in the Down Under Bowl throughout the years including former Denver Bronco quarterback Jake Plummer and Green Bay running back Ahman Green.

“I was kind of nervous at first,” Rust said. “You fly down there, get off the plane, meet new teammates, go to practice and get ready for the two games you have to play.”

Rust’s Texas team was made up of kids from Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Louisiana and Australia. He also had a teammate from both Sanger and Pilot Point.

Four teams are divided into brackets with each team playing two games. The first game is a seeding game to see which two teams will play in the championship.

Rust played running back for the Texas team with a 35-yard run being his biggest highlight. He also scored a couple of touchdowns, but both were called back due to penalty.

The Texas team won their first game and then defeated the Australia team for the title.

“It was fun to actually go down there, not knowing any of the people and getting to know everybody,” Rust said. “I made a lot of good friends and met a lot of cool people.”

Rust along with his mother, brother and girlfriend got to visit Sydney, including a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a rain forest and a wildlife sanctuary.

From Australia the trip concluded with a few days in Hawaii, where they stayed on the main island in Honolulu.

It turned out to be a nice vacation for Rust who now has to prepare himself for the real season.

The senior running back is excited to get started with new offensive coordinator Jayson Lavender.

“I think we are going to do well,” Rust said about the upcoming season. “We have a new offensive coordinator that basically changed our whole play book. His offense will give us a lot of new looks.”

Decatur begins two-a-day workouts Aug. 5.

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