Justin Carlen, 11, overcame illness and a slight case of the jitters to finish third in the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick region championships held Dec. 10 in the Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale.
Carlen strung together an effort of 221 feet to win the bronze medal against qualifiers from both Arizona and New Mexico.
The competition was held just prior to the kick off of the Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks NFL game.
At halftime, Carlen and the other qualifiers paraded around the field, inside the newly built stadium, to a thunderous applause of the appreciative fans.
"It was a thrill for him," said Justin's father, Jim.
Carlen's trip to the regional championships began two months ago when he won the Payson 11-12 year old championship with a punt, pass and kick effort of 213 feet, 4 inches.
After winning the Payson competition, Carlen advanced to the sectional showdown held Oct. 21 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
There, he combined three distances for a punt pass and kick of 243 feet.
But, after claiming the sectional showdown, he had to wait to learn if his mark was good enough to earn him a berth in regionals.
To qualify, his point total had to be among the three best at contests held throughout Arizona and New Mexico.
Arizona Punt Pass and Kick coordinator Mike Davis of the Glendale Parks and Recreational Department informed Carlen in late November that his marks were good enough to qualify.
Carlen said he was excited to earn the trip to the Seattle vs. Arizona game because the Seahawks are his favorite team.
The Cardinals, however, put the damper on all Seattle fans hopes by downing the visitors 27-21.
"I don't think he was disappointed though," his father said. "He was excited to be there."