The road to Super Bowl XLVII started in Holmes County back in July with a sister/brother duo winning the local 12-13-year-old local competition for Punt, Pass & Kick held at West Holmes High School on July 28.
PP&K is a yearly event and one of the oldest sponsored by the NFL that is open to boys and girls 6-15 years old. The children compete with one punt, one pass and one kick for total distance. Accuracy counts as well.
The two Holmes County youths, Bo and Madison Kandel of Killbuck, won the local event and qualified to Sectional competition in McConnelsville on Oct. 20.
Again, both Kandels won their age group, with 13-year-old Bo turning in a total distance of 252-feet, 7-inches, and 12-year-old Madison Kandel totaling an astonishing 301-10, which not only won the 12-13-year-old girls competition, but was 40 feet more than any other age group, boys or girls, at the event.
"I didn't think we'd make it this far," Bo, an eighth-grader at West Holmes Middle School, said. "We just have to go out, do our best and have fun with it."
Both Bo and Madison now will travel to the state competition held on Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Cleveland Browns practice facility in Berea to compete for a chance to continue for a Super Bowl berth, where the finals are held.
Following the competition on the 25th, the two will then attend the Browns/Steelers game at Cleveland Browns Stadium and will be having a PP&K exhibition at halftime on the Stadium field.
"This is really exciting," said Madison, a seventh-grader at West Holmes Middle School. "Passing is my strong point, but I like them all."
The Kandel kids credit their grandfather, Bob Spurgeon, for getting them involved in the PP&K competition and helping them prepare.
"We go out and practice kicking at the high school practice field," Spurgeon said. "I provided the footballs and the tee for them and they do all the work."
Spurgeon said it is fun for him to see his grandchildren competing in the same thing he did as a kid.
"We used to have a local winner, but no one ever seemed to make it this far," Spurgeon said.
He will be taking the children to a hotel in the Cleveland area the night before the competition so they will get to enjoy the experience even more.
The Kandel kids are Browns fans who also like the Indianapolis Colts. Their father, Randy Kandel, is a Steelers fan, which makes the trip to Cleveland even better. They are the children of Randy and Amber Kandel of Killbuck.