SMITHSBURG — Even at age 9, Brandon Fink has priorities.
They just fall in a different order than most.
So, when the Smithsburg youngster qualified for the Washington Redskins team championship in the Punt, Pass & Kick competition, he instantly had a unique list of objectives.
“I just want to see a football game,” he said. “I want to beat my brother. It’s funny because he is two years older than I am.”
And, oh yeah, somewhere down the list, he’d like to qualify for the national finals in January.
Fink will fulfill the first two items on his list on Sunday when he competes in the 8-9 age group final at halftime of the Redskins-New York Jets game at FedEx Field.
It will be the third consecutive year a Fink has participated for the team title. Brandon’s older brother, Robert Jr., qualified for the last two years, but just missed out as a 12-year-old this year. Both are sons of Robert and Donna Fink.
“Brandon just missed last year,” said Robert Fink Sr. “He had scores as high as some the others who made other team championships but didn’t make it. This year, his scores went up 30-40 feet.
“He’s seen his brother go and really wanted to do it. He’s really enjoying the fact that his brother didn’t make it.”
The Punt, Pass and Kick is an annual national skills event sponsored by the National Football League Youth Football program.
The competition is for boys and girls from 6 to 15 years old, divided into six age categories. The competitors are scored on the cumulative distance and accuracy of a pass, a punt and a kickoff.
Brandon qualified for the Washington finals on Nov. 6 with a combined score of 213.2. If he repeats that total, it would place him fourth among the current list of seven team champions in the 8-9 age group. The final 25 teams will crown their winners between now and Dec. 18.
Brandon’s specialty, like his brother’s, is the punt. He honed his talent while playing youth soccer.
“Brandon has been the goalie on his U12 team and he gets to punt the ball after making saves. He’s always kicking the ball with his older brother. His punting and passing has really improved. He is only 10 feet behind his older brother punting.”
But this kind of kicking is a little different for Brandon.
“It’s harder to kick a football,” Brandon said. “The soccer ball is easier because it is round.”
All 32 NFL teams have held local and sectional competitions leading to the team championships. The top four scores in each age group out of the 32 team champions will be invited to participate in the national finals at halftime of a playoff game in January.
Robert Jr., who plays midfield in soccer, failed to qualify on a grueling weekend. He competed during a full weekend of soccer games.
“He might have been a little tired,” Robert Sr. said. “They allowed him to kick after he played a few games and he came up a little short. He has been having trouble with his punts. ... We’ll have to work it out. With soccer, they don’t get much time to practice.”
The concept of distance, accuracy and technique may be a little lost on Brandon Fink. So is the idea of competing before 100,000 Redskins fans at FedEx Field.
But he knows one thing for sure.
“It will be fun,” Brandon said.