By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
At age 6, Lakota Martin already has Football Fever.
Not only was it emblazoned across his shirt when he participated in the punt, pass and kick competition Thursday, it showed when he threw a football 33 feet.
Kids from ages 5 to 13 participated in the competition, part of Fort Gibson’s Red-White football game festivities. Fort Gibson High School’s female students competed in a “powder puff” football game, too.
Fort Gibson’s punt, pass and kick is patterned after a national youth program sponsored by the National Football League, said Tye Smith, who coordinated the event.
“They punt, pass and kick the football, and we measure the distances,” Smith said. Awards are given to the top players in each age group.
Volunteer Bill Mosteller said ages are divided into 6 and 7; 8 and 9; 10 and 11; and 12 and 13.
Thursday’s competition even attracted a 5-year-old, Kaiden Murdaugh.
“We just came up here to do something,” said Kaiden’s father, Greg Perry.
Under his father’s guidance, Kaiden went from being timid to being a contender in the youngest age group. He competed against two other kids, Gideon Wood, 7 and Lakota Martin.
Lakota’s mother, Kyla Martin, knows how competitive that boy can be.
“He’s got a brother who plays on the Fort Gibson High School team,” Martin said. “I didn’t know how far Lakota can throw.”
Lakota said he thinks he’s best at punting “because Kyle does it.” Kyle Martin, Lakota’s brother, is a running back for the Fort Gibson Tigers.
Smith said the Punt, Pass and Kick competition is a good way for kids to develop skills.
“Hopefully, it helps them in skills they need in football,” he said. “And it gives them a sense of what it’s like to compete. It’s an opportunity for them to connect with the rules.”
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee