by nathan oster
Brock Hill and Shayla Cheatham were witnesses to history Sunday in Denver, as the two local teens and Punt, Pass & Kick competitors were standing behind the end zone waiting to be introduced at halftime when Matt Prater’s kick sailed over the crossbar in front of them.
Covering 64 yards in total, it was the longest field goal in NFL history and it the sent Broncomaniacs into a frenzy that didn’t subside until the Broncos had wrapped up their 11th win in 13 games and clinched a berth in the AFC playoffs.
“What an atmosphere,” said Shayla’s mother, Shalene Cheatham.
A lifelong Bronco fan, Shalene had never attended a Broncos game before Sunday.
Punt, Pass and Kick was her ticket to Denver, and the experience didn’t disappoint.
As of Tuesday, official results had not been posted on the NFL’s PP&K website.
Shalene said her daughter won’t be advancing to the next round. She placed fourth in the 10- and 11-year-old girls division in Denver and only the top finisher goes to the next round — and that is, if her score ranks among the top scores in the nation.
The competition was held Sunday morning at the Broncos’ Dove Valley training complex. It took place outside, where it was “snowing, blowing and about 12 degrees,” said Shalene. “It was cold.”
Shayla didn’t perform as well as she had in Riverton, where she doubled the distances on the pass, punt and kick she turned in at the local competition.
“She was sad and disappointed about her performance,” said Shalene. “But she had a good attitude, overall. She wasn’t disappointed about being fourth. So many kids go out for Punt, Pass and Kick. And she made it that far – and got to see a Denver game, too.”
Shalene said her daughter was “right behind the goalposts” for the epic kick. “She said it was like the ball was coming right at her.” They tried, after the fact, to see if TV cameras caught Shalene, but they couldn’t find her in the crowd.
Shalene said her daughter was introduced to the crowd at halftime and got to throw a pass on the Sports Authority Field turf.
“It was great, the whole experience,” said Shalene. “The crowd is just amazing. Everyone is so into the game. You can just feel it. Every single minute, they are pumping their energy out.”
Missy Hill said seeing the record-setting kick was also the highlight of the weekend for her son Brock, who placed third in his 12- and 13-year-old boys division. “He didn’t win, but we still had a blast,” said Missy.
Brock was on top of his game, too, for the competition. Like Shalene, she said she didn’t have a distance total for her child. “I don’t know how he could have done any better,” she said of her son, who may have been the most accurate performer in his division.
The trouble is, the kids who took first and second “were monsters,” she said. Both had throws that topped 150 feet. In fact, the two have turned in the best scores to date nationwide in their division.
“I think Brock’s score (from Denver) would rank third or fourth in the nation, too,” said Missy.
Like Shalene, she said the crowd left an impression on her. “This year the Broncos are good, so the whole vibe of the stands was different than it has been in the past,” when the Hills have gone to Denver to follow their other son, Riley’s, PP&K efforts. “But the coolest thing for Brock was standing in the end zone when Prater kicked his field goal. That was amazing.”