A pair of Mount Pleasant middle school students will be on the field at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.
Louis Griffith, 12, and Andrew Weil, 11, have qualified for an opportunity to advance to the national finals of the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick event. They will compete for one of two spots in their respective age groups prior to the game at the Panthers’ practice field, then will be on the sidelines for the first half of the Panthers-Falcons game. This will be the second time Griffith has qualified for the regional. He previously qualified in 2009.
The skills competition began in 1961. Players punt, pass and kick for accuracy, and they get only one chance in each discipline. Scores are determined by the length of their punt, pass or kick minus the distance from a center line.
Weil, son of Steve and Michell Weil, has participated in the local event three times, finally advancing this year. A sixth-grader at Cario Middle School, he said kicking is his best event in the competition.
Weil played recreation football, where he was a kicker, cornerback and quarterback, and he is a straight-A student, his mother added. She said his goal when he started was to make it to the Panthers game, and everything from this point is good.
“I practice most every day, but sometimes I have soccer practice or other stuff going on,” Weil said. “We only have a 100-foot rope, and I can kick it further than that. I can pass about 75 feet.”
He has two brothers, and his younger brother Jack, 7, finished second in his age group in the local PP&K event. Both of the brothers have been supportive and help with his practices, fetching balls for him.
Griffith, son of Louis and Kathy Griffith, is a seventh-grader at Christ Our King-Stella Maris School in Mount Pleasant. He has a 14-year-old sister, Kathleen, who came in second in the local PP&K, and a younger brother, Julian, 9. Griffith played wide receiver and defensive end for Christ Our King’s football team.
“In 2009, my friend (Hugh Meredith) took me to Park West, and I ended up winning that. I got to go to the Panthers game that year. I’ve been interested in it ever since,” Griffith said.
He said the weather was cold when he participated at the Panthers’ regional in 2009, and it was difficult to kick the ball.
“I’m nervous, but not as nervous because of the experience. I think I know how to handle it this time,” he said.
Both families are excited about watching their boys compete and are looking forward to attending the game. Each received two tickets, and the families have been working hard to get more tickets for the game, which is sold out.
“He really feels like it is an honor to represent his state in his age group,” Kathy Griffith said. “There are so many talented, athletic kids who try out. It’s going to be a great experience, and we are really proud of him.”
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