Roseville native kicking up a storm in the other Las Vegas
It’s Monday morning, and the kicker for the New Mexico Highlands University football team — Zachary Tapia to his mom, Crystal, Zach to most of his friends, “Tap” to his teammates — is walking the streets of Las Vegas, N.M.
“This is the original one,” the 2010 Roseville High School graduate said, adding the other Vegas is “just a lot more popular.”
Tapia is perfectly fine in this much quieter Las Vegas, content with hanging out with his Cowboys teammates.
And while he isn’t the biggest man on campus, he has the biggest leg. On Oct. 13, Tapia kicked a school-record 55-yard field goal in a 34-20 victory over Adams State in Alamosa, Colo. While the altitude helped, Tapia said it wasn’t needed.
“It went (through the uprights) toward the top of the crossbar,” he said of his longest field-goal attempt yet.
Tapia was listed at 5 foot 9 and 170 pounds as a senior at Roseville. He kicked 49 extra points and one field goal in two varsity seasons.
As a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore at New Mexico Highlands (6-2), he’s 34 for 37 on PATs and 13 for 21 on field-goal tries, including a 50-yarder and a 53-yarder before his record bomb, which earned him the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Special Teams Player-of-the-Week award. Tapia has 21 touchbacks in 56 kickoffs and has even punted five times for a 41.8 average, including a 51-yarder.
“I’m definitely kicking a lot farther,” Tapia said. “I’ve just grown into my body.”
After high school, Tapia said he worked with former Sacramento State kicker Juan Gamboa, who taught him how to put more power into his leg and “straightened me out a little.”
Tapia said he does speed training, lunges, squats and explosive workouts. He pulls a parachute and weights when he runs. And, Tapia works on his chest, “for the ladies of course,” he said.
Contact Bill Poindexter at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.