By Nathan DeenJune 20, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 19, 2013) -- About 50 kids showed off their kicking and passing skills Thursday at French Field during the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition, hoping to make it to the national stage.
According to the competition's website, the PP&K is an initiative of the NFL to teach the fundamentals of football to kids ages 6-15. More than 400,000 kids compete nationwide in local PP&K competitions. The top scorer in each age division moves on to sectional competitions and the top four first-place winners will compete in the team championships. The top four first-place finishers at the team championships are eligible to advance to the national round.
This year was the first time in four years Fort Benning has held a local PP&K competition, Fort Benning Child Youth & School Services director Dorrie Wagner said.
"It can be used as a bench mark to see how the kids can kick and pass," Wagner said.
Wagner said she made the competition coincide with the annual CYSS football camp, which was held June 10-13, but the PP&K was free to anyone who wanted to participate.
Charlie Flowers, the former head football coach at Shaw High School who led the Raiders to the 2000 state championship, provided oversight and gave advice to kids in the competition.
"(Coach Flowers) comes back every year and does our football camp, so we combined the two," Wagner said.
Participants were not allowed any practice beforehand, but could ask the coaching staff for tips at any time. Because of that, Flowers said the ones who attended the camp benefited more at the PP&K.
"The ones that participated in the camp throughout the week had an edge because we were already working on some of these things," Flowers said.
Scores were judged on a balanced scale of distance and accuracy. Tape measure was placed down the middle of an area with boundaries of 30 feet on both sides. Every foot away from the tape measure resulted in a one-point deduction from the distance thrown. For example, an 80-foot throw 10 feet right of the tape measure would result in a final score of 70.
Flowers said he has volunteered for the PP&K off and on for the last 20 years and liked what he saw from the kids Thursday.
"You never know what might come out of this," he said. "Look at how many games are won and lost on a kick or a punt. Special teams are often left out, but they often decide close ball games. If you find someone out here who's good on special teams, you've found something."