Story and photos by Chris Stone
Jason “AJ” Alani lives in Hawaii, but he’s the Chargers’ hope for another national title in the NFL’s Punt, Pass & Kick competition.
Hoping for a third national crown, Jason won the Boys 12-13 event Sunday afternoon at the practice field near Qualcomm Stadium, and became eligible for the national finals.
He and his brother Jarom (Boys 8-9 group) were among 10 kids between the ages of 6 and 15 who won their age groups — five girls and five boys. Some 40 took part in the afternoon divisional contest.
Jason won the national 10-11 title a year ago in Denver, totaling 383.10 feet while competing under the San Diego Chargers banner. He claimed the 8-9 division champtionship in 2012 in Baltimore.
(He and other national winners were introduced during halftime of the NFL divisional game between the Broncos and Chargers at Mile High Stadium, where Denver won 24-17.)
“It was good, but it was cold,” AJ said after the Denver contest. “My parents (Jason Alani and Traci Kahananui) were happy. I got a trophy.”
AJ, then a sixth-grader at Hawaiian charter school Kua O Ka La., is a quarterback Pop Warner quarterback, a pitcher for baseball and also takes part in track.
Besides the Alani brothers, winners Sunday in San Diego were:
- Girls 6-7: Keyera Cameron of Hemet
- Boys 6-7: Nakoa Ige of Kailua Kona, Hawaii
- Girls 8-9: Tylana Abraham of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
- Girls 10-11: Jayla Medeiros
- Boys 10-11: Hunter Knighton of St. George, Utah
- Girls 12-13: Kendall De La Vega of Valencia
- Girls 14-15: Alissa Kobe of Santa Clarita
- Boys 14-15: Kealiiholookoa Maruyama of Henderson, Nev.
Jayla Medeiros is a third-time Charger representative in the PPK finals. She is a two-time national PPK champion: the first national girls champion in the newly added girls 6-7 age group in 2010, and national champion in the 8-9 age group in 2012.
Medeiros was runner-up in the 10-11 age group last year, and also in the national 8-9 age group in 2011.
She will represent the Chargers again this year after her qualifying score of 284 feet.
In a contest that annually draws 3 million kids, each entrant is allowed one punt, one pass and one placekick.
“Scores are based on both distance and accuracy,” say the official rules. “For example, if a participant passes the ball 100 feet, but the ball lands 30 feet to the right of the measuring tape, the final score is calculated by deducting 30 from 100, for a final score of 70. Scores are based on exact feet and inches (partial inches are rounded to nearest inch). Participants cannot receive a negative score, but they can receive a score of zero.”
Final scores are cumulative total of the three individual events.
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