Local punts, passes and kicks his way to Raiders game
For millions of fans around the country, Sunday, Dec. 9 was merely week 12 of the football season and just another marathon Sunday lounge fest.
But for a young man from Truckee, it was more like Super Bowl Sunday and Christmas morning rolled into one.
After all, how often does a young football player get a chance to perform in front of 70,000 people in Oakland Coliseum during the halftime of an Oakland Raiders game?
Sean Chappell, 14, of Truckee, got to do just that after winning the regional Punt, Pass and Kick Competition.
“I didn’t pay attention to [the crowd]. It was too nerve-racking,” Chappell said. “I had never even been to a professional football game before, and I was on the field.”
The competition measures how far and how accurate participants can punt, pass and kick a football. Sponsored by the National Football League, there are several different age divisions open to both boys and girls.
Chappell, who has played Pop Warner for three years, won the 14-and-under division.
The region included all of Northern Nevada and parts of Northern California.
Regional winners from all over California and Nevada competed before the game D Chappell took fifth D then got to perform just for fun during halftime of the Raiders/Kansas City Chiefs game.
For Chappell, it was being down on the field and having his name and picture on the scoreboard that was most memorable.
“We were standing on the sideline just before halftime, and [Raiders wide receiver] Jerry Rice had just scored a touchdown. He looked at the camera, then he looked right at me,” Chappell said, still in awe.
The Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District runs the local Punt, Pass and Kick competition every September.
The winner of each division in the local competition then goes down to compete in the regional, held this year in Carson City.
“It’s not just necessarily [throwing or kicking], it’s also accuracy,” said Angelo Tenorio, the youth sports director for TDRPD. “You can punt the ball 60 yards, but if the kick isn’t accurate, then points are deducted.”
To win the regional, you not only have to win at the meet, but outscore all other participants competing at meets throughout the region, Tenorio said.
“It was a real surprise because we compete against such a big area. He was competing against kids from Reno and Carson City and from Sacramento, and even Roseville,” Tenorio said.
Joshua Johnson, also of Truckee, won the 10-and-under division at the Carson City meet, but his score wasn’t enough to surpass those from other meets in the region.
“It was a real surprise when the guy from Carson City called and said you have two winners,” Tenorio said.
For winning the regional, Chappell got three free tickets to the Raiders game, a chance to compete against other regional winners and be on the receiving end of a Jerry Rice glance.
Accompanying Chappell was his mother, Beverly, and younger brother Andy.
Afterward, all agreed that Raiders fans are deserving of their notorious reputation for rowdy behavior.
“It was quite an experience. I’ve never seen adults act that way,” said Beverly, with a laugh. “We were close to what they call the black hole. [The fans] were pretty rowdy and pretty scary. We aren’t used to that stuff. We are from little old Truckee.”