Victoria youth wins Team Championship
Victoria fourth-grader Matthew Garcia wasn't expecting the fierce cold front that swept through last weekend as he prepared for the Team Championship of the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition in Houston.
It didn't make much of a difference as Matthew scored 180 points and achieved first place for the 8-and-9-year-old boys' division.
Beating the second-place winner by five points, Matthew won the Team Championship for the Houston Texans and has a chance to compete at a National Championship at an AFC/NFC playoff game in January.
The cold weather did affect the DeLeon Elementary student, but it affected the other kids too, said his mother, Tina Garcia.
"He didn't score as high as he did in San Antonio (at the sectional competition)," Garcia said. "It was so cold, and the wind was blowing."
Matthew and his parents had to be at the Reliant Stadium by 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The night before, they stayed in a hotel nearby with the stadium as a view from their window.
"He said, 'Oh my gosh, it's so big! That's so cool,'" Garcia said about her son seeing Reliant for the first time.
With the gusty winds, Matthew punted and passed the football very well, Garcia said. But the kicking portion of the competition tripped him up.
"He told us, 'I was frozen by then,'" Garcia said about the kick, a skill that Matthew normally excels at.
After finding out that he won first place, Matthew jumped with excitement and joy.
"He was so excited that he won," Garcia said.
Matthew and his father, Ernie, sat in a special area at the Texans game after they were told he won first place.
"Only the first place winners got to go on the field during halftime," Garcia said.
Matthew received a football inscribed with "Punt, Pass, and Kick Team Champion."
At Matthew's two previous competitions (the first in Victoria in September, followed by sectionals in San Antonio the next month), his highest combined score was 205 points.
The family won't find out if he qualifies for the National Championship until the final Team Championship game in Dallas on Dec. 17.
Last week, Matthew was also told that he made the All-Star team for the Crossroads Youth Football League. This was his first season to play.
"He thought it was really cool," Garcia said about Matthew's overall experience. "(The Texans) are his favorite team."