Mitch Knepp And Ben Smith Invited To Play In 2020 Down Under Bowl Football (01/31/20)
Two Clarion Area Bobcat football players, Mitch Knepp and Ben Smith, have been informed that they have been invited to participate in the 32nd Down Under Bowl Football Tournament, June 28th – July 7th, in Queensland, Australia.
(Ben and Mitch are and will be conducting fundraisers, to help with expenses for this great opportunity. Links to their Down Under Bowl accounts are included below.)
“For 32 years, Down Under Sports has been hosting sports tournaments in Australia. We personally invite high school athletes to compete in the annual Down Under Sports Tournaments in Queensland, Australia each summer. We seek athletes who we believe will benefit the most from our program. Our goal is to see our participants grow through this life changing experience, both in their sport and as people. These renowned tournaments are an opportunity for athletes from different countries to compete on an international level. We pride ourselves on providing these opportunities to compete and experience the culture, beauty, and grandeur of Australia. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring that our athletes and their families are prepared for the experience of a lifetime.”
For the 2019 season, Mitch, the son of Doug and Kris Knepp was named to the Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express All-Stars, First Team Defense; D9Sports.com All-District Team; D9 League 2019 Large School All-Stars as an Offensive Lineman and as a Defensive Lineman/End. Mitch received the Jerry “Joe” Staley Outstanding Senior Award at this year’s Team Banquet. He was selected All-Conference Defensive End twice, Linebacker once and Tight End one time.
Ben, the son of, Mike and Angie Smith, was named to the Tri-County Sunday/ Courier Express All-Stars, First Team Offense; D9Sports.com All-District Team; D9 League 2019 Large School All-Stars, where he was named to the Offensive Line and was also named Offensive Lineman of the Year. Ben was three time All-Conference Offensive Line, two time All-District Offensive Line, 2018 PFN 2nd Team 1A All-State Offensive Guard, 2018 Pa Football Writers 1A All-State Offensive Line
Ben and Mitch, both students at Clarion-Limestone, Ben and Mitch have played together for a number of years, playing for the Lions through their junior years, and for the Bobcats this season, with C-L joining the co-op with Clarion and North Clarion.
Clarion Area Head Coach Larry Wiser had this to say, ” I enjoyed working with both Ben and Mitch very much. Not only are they good athletes; they are great leaders also.
“Every year, good teams start with great lines. They were half of it. Needless to say, we’ll miss both of them.”
Assistant Coach and Offensive Co-ordinator Davey Eggleton, himself a participant in the Down Under Bowl after his senior season, was Clarion-Limestone’s Head Coach, mentored Ben and Mitch throughout their high school football careers.
Coach Eggleton said, “It’s been such a blessing coaching Ben and Mitch throughout there high school career. Not only are they both outstanding players, but both of these young men have showed leadership beyond their years. They have always been team first guys and I am excited to see them have this opportunity.
“I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the Down Under Bowl following my senior year in 2004. It was an experience that I will never forget. I was able to travel halfway around the world and see country that most people could only dream of going to. On top of that, it allowed me to put on the pads one last time and play the sport I loved. I made many great friends and memories through this awesome experience. I know that both Mitch and Ben will have a great time and make great memories.”
Mitch had this to say about this opportunity to play in the Down Under Bowl, “I am extremely grateful for being selected and invited to play in the 2020 Down Under Bowl Football game! This is a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity to see more parts of the world. I love Clarion but I know it’s a small-town, and I think this trip will give me a great chance to expand my knowledge and experiences about other places outside of Pennsylvania.
“I found out in early November that I was selected to participate in the Down Under Bowl. The organization sent me an envelope with information about the trip and I was extremely interested from the moment I opened it. I am very honored, that I was an athlete that their organization considered a good candidate for their selection process. The name of the team I will be playing for is still unknown at this time, which I think adds a lot of intrigue to playing over there.
“My good friend Ben Smith, also from Clarion-Limestone, received an invitation to participate as well, so we will be making the trip together. This is good because we can plan many aspects of our trip together. One extra activity, that I am very excited about, is the opportunity to go snorkeling and observe some of the barrier reefs that Australia has to offer.
“Ben and I are planning some fundraisers like T-shirt sales, a gun raffle, 50/50 tickets, and even a bowling activity. You can also donate straight to me on the Down Under Fund raising site. Every dollar pledged goes straight to fund our trip. There is a direct link to my account: https://downundersports.com/FDD-ZGF, and you can donate to Ben’s trip through his account.
“I am extremely thankful for all the support and help I have from my parents through this entire process; without them I would definitely not be able to go to Australia. I would also like to thank my coaches for being great people and always pushing me to be the best athlete I can be. Our coach Eggleton also played in the Down Under Bowl, so that is really cool to be following in his footsteps.
“This trip is the icing on the cake of my high school football career. Next year I plan on going to Clarion University for an undecided major at this time.”
Ben said, “I have been fortunate enough to receive an invitation to go play football in the Down Under Bowl in Australia. I will be representing our community and our state in this adventure. While I am there I will have the opportunity to do many things, that I am not able to do, in our small town of Clarion. These things include exploring the barrier reefs surrounding Australia, visiting an animal sanctuary, and interacting with kangaroos and koala bears.
“I was informed about my invite early in November when I received an envelope with all of the trip information in it. I found out that I was invited about half way through the regular season. I walked into my first period classroom and the letter was sitting on my desk.
“I will be traveling with my good friend and teammate, Mitch Knepp. We are not sure which team we will be on while we are there, but we will be with other football players from across America. We will be playing against teams with kids from America, New Zealand, and Australia.
“Although this trip will be an amazing experience, we will need to raise money. We are planning a few fundraisers at the moment. These include a gun raffle, a 50/50 raffle, (T-shirt sales), and possibly more. People can also donate directly to my account on the Down Under Sports website. My account link is https://downundersports.com/GSE-IBH.
I found out that I was invited about half way through the regular season. I walked into my first period classroom and the letter was sitting on my desk.
“I am looking forward to practically the whole experience. I am excited to travel to another country to represent Pennsylvania and play my favorite sport.
“My parents and coaches have been supportive of me throughout my football career. They have always went above and beyond to make sure that I was the best player that I could be. I am extremely grateful for every coach that I have ever had for pushing me to reach my potential.
“I have been given the opportunity to be around some really great teammates. From my freshman season through my senior year, I have been able to play with some extraordinarily helpful teammates. They have always pushed me to get better and helped me when I needed it.”
(Congratulations on being selected to the 2020 Down Under Bowl, Ben and Mitch!!!!)
Down Under Sports Homepage link: