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Getting his kicks ... and a throw

Smithsburg youth shoots for Redskins' Punt, Pass and Kick title

Smithsburg youth shoots for Redskins' Punt, Pass and Kick title

December 03, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

SMITHSBURG -- Robert Fink Jr. takes his football literally.

Any sport that allows the Smithsburg 10-year-old to use his foot to strike the ball, well, let's just say he gets a kick out of it.

"It's fun to kick," Fink said. "I like kicking it far."

So, that's probably why the National Football League's Punt, Pass and Kick competition is right up Fink's alley. After all, since two of the three disciplines in the contest consist of driving a toe into the side of a pigskin, it's not bad for the young athlete.

Fink will compete in the Washington Redskins' team championship for 10- and 11-year-olds Sunday at FedEx Field with a trip to the national final four at an AFC playoff game at stake.

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"This is going to be cool because I have never been to an NFL stadium," Fink said. "I'd like to meet some of the players."

Fink will compete in punting and kicking on Sunday morning before the game between the Redskins and New Orleans Saints and pass at halftime. The final scores for four age groups of boys and girls representing the Redskins will be announced between the third and fourth quarters of the game. When the team competitions are completed, there will be 32 team champions -- one from each NFL team. The top four scorers of those champions will advance to the national final.

Much of Fink's success comes for being able to get a leg up on the competition.

Fink's father, Robert Fink Sr., saw his son had a talent for kicking from the big foot he showed in soccer games and decided to help him hone his talent.

"He is pretty active and plays both soccer and football. He plays all year round and loves anything with a ball in it," Fink Sr. said. "He plays midfield (in soccer) and is able to lay back and score."

Fink Jr. has taken his game and worked his football skills. He played two years as a quarterback in the Smithsburg flag football league before adding time this season with the Boonsboro Area Athletic Association's Pony team to kick and play defensive end.

"We went over to play at Boonsboro this year because they allow kicking in the league," said Fink Sr. "There aren't many kids who can kick the ball. When he got his first extra point, he was really happy."

Fink Jr. is one of the youngest competitors in the 10-11 PPK competition, turning 10 on Oct. 11. He was required to compete in the older group because placement is determined by the age at the end of the calendar year.

Players are graded in feet on distance and accuracy -- measured from a stripe in the middle of the field -- in the three disciplines to create an aggregate score.

Fink Jr. participated in two competitions to earn his spot in the Redskins team championship. He attended one contest in Gaithersburg, Md., in August before making the cut with a score of 244.7 on Nov. 1 in Wheaton. He scored 82.4 in placekicking, 76.6 in passing and 85.9 for punting.

He admits he has a hero he truly appreciates for his ability only.

"I like (Pittsburgh kicker) Jeff Reed because he kicks the ball far," he said. "But I hate the Steelers."

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