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Santa Maria seven-year-old wins L.A. Rams NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition

A Santa Maria first-grader could soon compete for a national championship in the oldest youth football program held by the NFL.

On Sunday, several hours before the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins faced off in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, seven-year-old Jayden Regalado was on the field taking part in the Punt, Pass & Kick competition.

“First you punt it,” said Jayden Regalado. “Second you kick it, and the last one, you pass it.”

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The free competition has been held by the NFL annually from May through January since 1961. It’s divided into four separate age groups (6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, and 14-15) for boys and girls. According to the league, thousands of kids nationwide take part in the competion, making it one of the world’s largest youth sports participation programs.

Taking on three other finalists in the competition, Regalado’s score was the best overall, clinching him first place in the Rams team championship.

The Tunnell Elementary School student qualified for the Rams competition by earning first place in the local qualifier held at Elks Field in Santa Maria on Aug. 21, before winning a sectional qualifier in Lancaster on Oct. 30.

Now, he waits to see if his score ranks in the top four among the other 31 NFL team championships.

“The top four to get to nationals at the Pro Bowl game in Orlando,” said Jayden’s dad Jason Regalado. “They get to go to Disney World for the top four kids. They get to go to the Pro Bowl and Disney World, so he’s excited to go if he gets to go.”

Jason Regalado, who was a standout athlete at both Santa Maria High School and Valley Christian Academy, is excited about watching his son succeed athletically at such a young age.

“I was an athlete growing up, so seeing my kid being the athlete that he is and he looks like he’s better than I ever was, so to me, it’s an experience that I can’t put a word on it. I’m proud and it’s priceless what is happening with him and it’s fun,” said Jason Regalado.

Regalado added they would learn by Dec. 21 if Jayden’s score is among the top four in the nation. If it is, Regalado will advance to the finals and will receive airfare and accommodations to Orlando.

The NFL Punt, Pass & Kick Naitonal Championships will be held Jan. 26-30 at ESPN Wide World of Sports located in the Walt Disney World Resort

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