Invited to his first Duel in July, Kai Colon wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he arrived at Whitewater High School on the outskirts of Atlanta.

“I just wanted to get experience, since it was my first one,” Colon said. “But I also wanted to do well, because everyone does.”

Mission accomplished, on both fronts. Competing against incoming eighth graders in QBA’s annual showcase event, Colon finished fifth.

“I was very happy when they called my name for fifth place,” he said. “I was just happy I got to compete in the last gauntlet. Doing well, it raised my confidence a lot. But I still have to stay humble and not think too much about it. Just keep going and keep working hard.”

All of the hard work has already been paying off for Colon, even before his Duel debut.

Last season, the Slate Hill, N.Y., resident started at quarterback for the Minisink Valley Warriors A team as a seventh grader. Playing with a roster full of eighth and ninth graders, Colon passed for over 800 yards with 9 touchdowns and also rushed for another TD during the seven-game season.

“I thought I did well managing the game,” he said. “I don’t think I had any interceptions, which I was really happy about. Improving my speed was the one thing I wasn’t happy with, but I think the speed will come as I get older.”

As a sixth grader in 2015, Colon guided his Division 2 Minisink Valley Warriors team to a Super Bowl victory, rushing for 2 touchdowns, passing for another score and returning an interception for a TD.

This season, Colon played on the Minisink Valley High School JV team despite being an eighth grader. Splitting time with a sophomore QB, he completed 55 of 91 pass attempts (60 percent) for 923 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing just 3 interceptions.

He also rushed for 179 yards and 1 TD.

Before the season, Colon was pumped for the big step up in class. “I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’m the only eighth grader getting pulled up, so it’s pretty cool. I think I’ll do well.”

Already standing 6 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds, Colon has high school size. He’s also a standout student, posting a 98.0 GPA on a 100 scale in seventh grade accelerated classes while being selected to the prestigious Junior Leadership program. This year, he’s taking accelerated courses and his grades are again in the high 90s.

“I take a lot of pride in being a good student because I know a lot of colleges look at that,” Colon said. “I have great teachers and they’re always pushing me to get better. I study when I’m not on the field, pay attention in class and try to get my homework done as fast as possible. Doing well in school helps me playing football because I can read the defenses faster and think a lot quicker.”

In his first year of training with QBA, Colon has already seen positive results. “QBA has helped me a lot,” he said. “They helped my form, the path of my release. That’s really helped me make more accurate throws and allowed me to put more velocity on the ball.”