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They've been to the land Down Under

July 24, 2002|By MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

Joey Yurish and Ryan Horn did a lot of the things your average high school graduate do during their summer vacation.

They walked on the beach. They went to amusement parks. They even went bowling a few times.

Still, they did it a little differently. They did it halfway around the world.

The Eastern Panhandle teens traveled to Australia last month to do those simple things for fun and found time to play some American football in the Down Under Bowl while they were there.

"We wanted to go there and play," said Horn, who starred as a running back at Musselman. "But we went there to have fun, too."

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As members of the Eastern States team, Yurish and Horn -- the only two players from West Virginia -- led the team's offense. Yurish took every snap as the team's quarterback, while Horn played on both sides of the ball as a tailback and linebacker.

Unlike the other three teams in their pool -- Washington, Colorado and Arkansas -- the Eastern States team had only one two-hour practice before they played their first game, a 34-28 overtime loss to Arkansas.

"Our team was really kind of thrown together," said Yurish, who led Martinsburg to the Class AAA state final and won Herald-Mail Offensive Player of the Year honors as a senior. "The other teams had a couple weeks of practice. We went for two hours."

The lack of practice meant the offense would be kept simple, which worked out fine for Yurish and Horn, who found themselves the focal points.

"Everything was pretty basic, a lot of wing-T and double slots, things that we're both pretty familiar with," Horn said.

Yurish threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in the loss to Arkansas. Horn gained 110 yards on the ground.

In their second game -- a 14-6 win over Colorado -- Horn ran for 150 yards and a touchdown and Yurish threw for 140 yards.

"I think we were both kind of surprised because we really just exploded down there," Horn said. "It helped to show that we really are good players."

Yurish prepared for the trip by participating in Martinsburg's summer workouts, dressed in full pads to get accustomed to playing in the heat once again.

"I was out there throwing and these construction guys at the school were looking at me like, 'What are you doing?'" Yurish said.

The games in Australia were the culmination of a busy summer for Horn. He went to Cancun following graduation, then played for the winning North squad and Martinsburg coach David Walker in the North-South All-Star Game.

There was a stop in Hawaii on the return trip, but by that time, both were ready to get back home.

"It was 110 degrees every day, Ryan got pink eye," Yurish said. "It was beautiful, definitely. But we were ready to come home."

The rest of the summer will go quickly for the pair. Horn reports to East Stroudsburg on Aug. 17, where he will suit up as a fullback in a power-I offense. Yurish starts practice at Mercersburg Academy on Aug. 19.

"It's definitely something we'll always remember," Yurish said. "The trip, the people that helped out with money, everything about it was great."

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