Five youths from Western Montana have qualified to compete in the NFL Team Championship of the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick (PPK) program.
The competition will be held in Seattle the weekend of Nov. 26, culminating with an exhibition as part of the Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins NFL game on the 27th.
The youths, their age and home towns are: Adriana Tatukivei, 7, Ronan; Kenley Leary, 7, Butte; Marissa Mock, 11, Ronan; Emilio Bravo, 13, St. Ignatius; and Brianna O’Mara, 14, Butte.
The Seattle Seahawks’ region includes all of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, plus Western Montana.
The Montana youngsters had to win not only their respective local PPK competition and the western Montana sectional event, held in Missoula on Oct. 9, but also be among the top four of the 14 sectional age-group winners in the Seahawks’ region. The remaining five other western Montana youths who won their sectional age group in Missoula, finished either fifth or sixth in the region, just missing qualifying for the Seattle event.
Seven other central and eastern Montana youngsters qualified to compete in the Denver NFL Team Championship.
Western Montana youths have fared well at the Seattle regional competition, never failing to win at least one age-group championship over the past 16 years, and winning three age-group championships in three of those years, including last year. To advance to the national PPK championship in January, the youths competing in Seattle or Denver must win that event and be one of the top four scorers among all other regional winners representing each of the 32 NFL teams throughout the country.
Montana has produced four national finalists and two national champions over the last twelve years.
In a related matter, the Malta PPK team captured the Montana Jaycees’ Traveling Trophy for the state of Montana for 2011, besting the Butte team by a mere .03 points, which was the closest margin of victory in the award’s history. In 2011, there were 43 towns and schools competing throughout Montana.
Malta and Butte were followed in order by Helena Middle School, Miles City, and Missoula, which was the 2010 winner of this trophy.