Buyak copes with pain, finishes third in Oakland |

Buyak copes with pain, finishes third in Oakland

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

A separated shoulder didn’t keep Whittell High School freshman quarterback Austin Buyak from competing in the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick contest and throwing a pass in front of Raiders’ fans Sunday in the Oakland Coliseum.

Buyak finished third in the oldest of the four age groups (14-15) at the team competition. It’s the third time Buyak has finished third in Oakland.

“It was real bad … excruciating pain,” Buyak said. “I was down on one knee waiting to do my next thing, and I was holding my shoulder up the whole time, trying to keep it elevated.”

If he had won, Buyak would have been in consideration for next month’s national finals. Only the top four total scores from the 32 team competitions are invited to the national finals. “It didn’t cross my mind to quit because of my shoulder,” he said. “With my arm being the way it was, third place was great.”

Buyak also took solace in knowing he was beaten by one of the top competitors in the country.

“The first-place winner from our region has the No. 1-ranked score in the nation,” Buyak said. “The competition was definitely a lot more intense than it has been in past years. To beat that kid, I would have had to be 100 percent.”

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Buyak said he will have a doctor examine his shoulder later this week and let his throwing arm heal so he can be ready for his next football season at Whittell.

The NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition is free to enter and has been in place for 48 years. National champions are crowned in 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15 ages divisions for boys and girls.