Super Bowl: It's a toss up

Ready for the Super Bowl are, from left: Kyle Weymouth, Reed Rawlins, Kenny Purnell, Blake Purnell and Ross Rawlins. Reed and Ross are going with the Patriots, while Blake and Kyle will be rooting for the Eagles. For Kenny, the Packers aren't in the game, so he's not paying much attention. The Eagle/Scott Mallory

JOHN DAY - The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots are in Jacksonville, Fla., this week, getting ready to play in Super Bowl 39 (or XXXIX, if you prefer).

The Patriots will try to win their third title in four years. The Eagles are back in the big game for the first time since 1981, when they lost to Oakland, 27-10, in New Orleans.

Who do you think is going to win this year?

"Well, it'll be a close game," Blake Purnell said. "I think the Patriots are going to end up pulling it out at the end. I think they have the defense to stop McNabb. But if they play the way they did against the Dolphins, I don't think so."

The Miami Dolphins beat the Patriots, 29-28, for one of their four wins this year.

Blake, an 11-year-old athlete at Prairie City School, called for a Patriots' win, but he won't be rooting for them. He's rooting for the Eagles.

"I'm not a big Patriot fan. I'm actually a big Dolphin fan, and the Patriots and the Dolphins don't go together well," Blake said.

Blake is in the sixth grade. He plays offensive and defense end in football; point, post and wing in basketball; and pitcher, shortstop and some third base in baseball. He and a few friends, including his little brother, Kenny, 6, were in the Eagle office to talk about the Super Bowl.

There was enthusiasm for football in general, if not specifically for the Super Bowl, since none of the boy's teams are in it.

"I don't really like either of the teams," Ross Rawlins said, "but I'm going to root for New England. I kind of like Tom Brady."

What's not to like? Brady has been the MVP of the Super Bowl, and this year he threw for 3,692 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions.

"He's big, too," Ross said.

Reed, Ross' twin brother, also planned to root for the Patriots.

"For the same reason," Reed said.

The Rawlins boys are 11 and are sixth-graders at Seneca School. Ross plays halfback, and is a shooting guard in basketball. Reed plays halfback and some quarterback, and is a point guard.

Reed had basketball on his mind because on Saturday he was heading to Burns to compete in the district hoop shoot, which pits the area's best free-throw shooters against each other.

Reed beat his brother at Seneca by one shot, hitting 13 of 20. At the county competition, Reed hit 21 of 25.

"They've been switiching off the past couple of years," Kyle Weymouth said. "Ross won last year."

With twins, the question had to come up. Yes, they have tried to trick their teachers.

"But it doesn't work," they said.

Kyle, 12, also a sixth-grader, who goes to school in Mt. Vernon, planned to cheer for Philadelphia.

"I like McNabb and Owens is good, but he's too cocky. He's always celebrating in the end zone and doing stuff," Kyle said.

McNabb's stats for the year were pretty good. He threw for 3,875 yards and 31 touchdowns, with eight interceptions.

Kyle plays linebacker and halfback, point guard and is a pitcher and a shortstop. He played football with Reed and Ross in the parks and recreation league.

"Both are good teams," Kyle said. "It's going to be a pretty good game."

The Patriots finished the regular season at 14-2. The Eagles were 13-3. The Patriots were No. 9 in total offense (310 yards, 27 points a game), the Eagles No. 10 (319 and 24). The teams are close on defense, too: Patriots No. 2, Eagles No. 3. Both teams only gave up 16 points a game.

If Kyle had his way, the Denver Broncos would be in the Super Bowl.

"I like Plummer, the QB, the Snake," Kyle said. "He's got guite a beard going."

Ross prefers the Pittsburgh Steelers, who he said are "awesome."

Reed would like to see the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game.

Blake got to see his team, the Dolphins, this year in Seattle against the Seahawks.

He earned the trip because he placed high in last year's regional Punt, Pass and Kick competition.

Blake won in John Day, then did the same in La Grande.

At the competition in La Grande, Blake passed 116 feet, kicked 75 feet and punted 64 feet. The efforts were judged on distance and accurancy.

"They have a line; if you throw it a hundred feet, but it's ten feet off the line, then your score is 90 feet," Blake said.

To get to Seattle, Blake not only had to win, but he had to be in the top five scores out of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

"I got the second-highest score out of those states," he said.

Blake finished second in Seattle, which ended his competition, but it was a good trip, he said, with his dad, uncle, two cousins and his brother.

One of the best things about the trip was a chance to see the Dolphins play.

"Except they lost," Blake said. "A guy intercepted a pass late in the game for the Seahawks and ran it back for a touchdown. All they had to do was hold onto the ball and kick a field goal and they would have won."

To be good at football, you have to quick, fast and strong, Blake said.

"And tough," Kyle said.

What about girls? There were girls on the Mt. Vernon team.

"They're pretty tough," Kyle said. "One of them was a really good blocker, Katelyn Page."

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