Duel: Competition combines with celebration

Rob Trubia photo

The Duel.
Just the name alone invokes an image of intense competition that puts skill to the supreme test.
That is certainly what NFA had in mind when the Duel was born in 2010. And with each passing year, the competition has showcased more and more quarterback talent from across the United States and Canada.
Not only do youth, junior high and high school underclassmen travel from all over the country to match their talents against similar aged QBs, they have the opportunity to gain national – and international – attention.
Xavier Tremblay got his first Duel invite this summer and he journeyed to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, Ohio, from his home in Laval, Quebec.
Tremblay speaks French, but his Duel excitement was not lost in translation.

‘Unforgettable experience’

“The Duel was an unforgettable experience for me in terms of development, technique and execution, as well as in terms of culture,” Tremblay said. “I was so impressed by everyone’s love for the sport of football.”
American or Canadian, there was one common thread among all of the Top 3 competitors at this year’s Duel. The summer success in Ohio carried directly into the season.
“I was third at the Duel (in 2014), so to finish first is an incredible achievement for me,” said Taden Blaise, who placed first among incoming juniors this year. “It defintely added to my persona as a quarterback. It was really cool because it put me on the map a little more.”
Said Jack Curtis, who finished second at the Duel among incoming sixth graders: “I just wanted to be in the Top 10, so finishing where I did gives me a lot of confidence going into this season.”

Getting there

To qualify for the Duel, athletes eager to match up against talent of the same age must first attend an Off-Season Development camp or a Preseason Prep Football Camp and receive an NFA Coach nomination. One of NFA’s many regional partners can also issue Duel invites.
The competition is open for athletes preparing to enter Grades 5-11. If an invite doesn’t come right away, keep working at it.
While the Duel features intense competition and tests every skill a rising young quarterback has, the two-day event is also a celebration of the benefits of hard work, training and the desire to get better.
One of the many Duel highlights are the memorable speeches delivered by Darin Slack, NFA’s Founder and President. “His motivational speeches are off the hook,” said Ryan Bolduc, this year’s third-place finisher among incoming eighth graders. “They are very, very amazing.”
Here is the list of this year’s Duel Top 3 finishers:
First: Aliam Appler, Wilmington, North Carolina
Second: Kennith Minchey Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee
Third: Jacob Winters, Gallipolis, Ohio
First: Caden Buckles, Knoxville, Tennessee
Second: Jack Curtis, Charlotte, North Carolina
Third: Ryan Fontaine, Tucson, Arizona
First: Zak Acuff, Knoxville, Tennessee
Second: Caleb Ellard, Athens, Georgia
Third: Tucker Pope, Cleveland, Tennessee
First: Ken Seals, Azle, Texas
Second: Madden Lowe, Spotsylvania, Virginia
Third: Ryan Bolduc, Bradenton, Florida
First: Michael Kern, Orlando, Florida
Second: Dylan Emery, Parker, Colorado
Third: Xavier Tremblay, Laval, Quebec
First: Chad Briden, St. Louis, Missouri
Second: Josh Jones, Wilmington, North Carolina
Third: Wyatt Rector, Leesburg, Florida
First: Taden Blaise, Parker, Colorado
Second: Nathan Martinez, Yucaipa, California
Third: Jake Froschauer, Summit, New Jersey

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University