Passing (and kicking and punting) on a family tradition
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Baker youngster Cierra Howerton enjoys keeping up a family tradition, especially if it means outdoing her older brother.
Howerton, 9, recently won the girls 9-10-year-old division at the Punt, Pass & Kick sectional competition at La Grande. Her total distance of 131 feet, 11 inches was also good enough to qualify her for the regional competition Nov. 21 at Seattle.
Howerton will compete with others in her age group during halftime of the Seattle Seahawks National Football League game against Miami.
Howerton is not the first member of her family to compete at an NFL game. Her older brother, Derek, a sophomore at Baker High School, has competed in the PP&K the past three years, placing fourth a year ago. He was too old this year.
His sister, who plans to wear her brother's jersey for good luck at Seattle, has received some coaching from her brother. But, not too many tips.
"I practiced with Derek," Howerton said. "He showed me how to pass and punt."
But, other than that, she said, her brother has let her learn on her own.
One thing Howerton plans to accomplish is competing in the PP&K competition more times than her brother. And, since she got started at an earlier age she's in her second year of competition that's highly possible.
Howerton said passing the football is her favorite part of the competition, and kicking the ball is the hardest for her.
"I just want to do my best," she said about the Seattle competition.
The date of the competition also has provided an interesting problem for the Howertons.
The PP&K competition is on the Sunday following Baker's second-round Class 3A state football home game. So that the family can root for the Bulldogs, and Derek, on Saturday, they will attend the game then leave immediately thereafter to head to Seattle.
"It's going to be a long, and hopefully successful, weekend," said mom Nicole Howerton.