Buyak hoping third time is a charm in NFL contest |

Buyak hoping third time is a charm in NFL contest

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Austin Buyak, a freshman quarterback at Whittell High School, won’t have to worry about taking a shot from a defensive player from a larger school on Sunday.

But that doesn’t mean that Buyak will be pain-free when he competes in the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick regionals in Oakland Coliseum.

Buyak hurt his shoulder in a playoff game at Battle Mountain on Nov. 6 and isn’t fully recovered.

“I’m hoping to have my strength back from that. It’s getting better,” he said.

Still, this is his final chance to qualify for the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick national finals in the 14- and 15-year-old division. Buyak is making his third appearance in the regionals.

“The past two years I haven’t thought about it too much,” Buyak said. “Now it’s definitely my main goal … to get to nationals, not third place in Oakland.”

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Buyak and the other regional finalists will compete prior to the Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on Sunday. They will he honored at halftime, and each competitor will be given a chance to pass the football.

That halftime pass a year ago raised some eyebrows, according to Chardonnae Andrews, Buyak’s mother.

“Last year when he threw in the stadium, he got three big colleges interested in recruiting him. I’m hoping the scouts are out there again,” Andrews said.

Buyak said he has made substantial improvement in his kicking and is hoping his shoulder is strong enough to keep him in the running for first place.