There were probably a dozen other activities that tugged at Oscar Murguia’s attention during the summer months — the most wonderful time of the year for high school students.
He likely still had the time for some of those. But there was something else he had — or rather, wanted — to take care of first.
Four days a week and three times a day the Crane junior place kicker said he arrived at El Ave Stadium and kicked it. With an occasional breeze not doing much to cool the turf keeping him company, it was just Murguia, a few footballs, two uprights and a tee. No distractions — nothing better.
“I just focused on kicking — nothing else, pretty much,” Murguia said. “Kicking is everything with me right now.”
Apparently that isn’t an understatement. As Murguia puts it, the subject is all he can talk about with his family and friends.
The results this season have included a 46-yard field goal — the longest in the Permian Basin this season — for the Golden Cranes in their 48-0 victory over Ozona last week that moved them to 3-0 this season.
It also has head coach Naldo Esparza talking, and moreover appreciating the luxury in Murguia.
“It sure helps when you know you can get inside the 40 and trust you can get some points out of it,” said Esparza, whose Golden Cranes host the Pecos Eagles at 8 tonight. “He’s a weapon on kickoffs too, and he is our punter. I told him that he has a special talent and can use that talent to get where he wants.”
And really, kicking turned out to be the kick-start Murguia needed.
He confesses schoolwork took a back seat his freshman year. At least he recognized his fault, and Murguia also realized a year later after getting his call up to the varsity level as a sophomore that his grades were the second half of a golden ticket he’d like to think will get him into college.
“When I first started doing it, I knew I was going to keep doing that. It’s what I want to go to college and do,” Murguia said. “Now, in class, every day I think about my future.”
The path toward that future began his freshman year when Murguia — a soccer player, too — kicked a football for essentially the first time and pleasantly surprised Golden Cranes football coaches.
He also surprised himself.
“I didn’t know I had a leg,” Murguia said.
Everyone knows now.
“We’ve had some really good ones since I’ve been here and Oscar is right there with them,” said eighth-year assistant coach Trey Morgan. “All have had different styles, but he just booms.”
Similar to his adjustments in the classroom, Murguia also is a student of his craft. In the early stages of molding his form, he dissected every aspect and turned to a certain Dallas Cowboys kicker.
“It’s kind of funny, I looked (kicking form) up on Dan Bailey’s website. I watched him and my form is like his, really,” Murguia said.
Morgan said he has enjoyed watching Murguia attack the position over the past couple of seasons and said that aside from dialing up a bit more consistency, Murguia (6-foot, 190 pounds) isn’t off target in his aim to use kicking to get to college.
“It’s neat to see him mature into what he is right now,” Morgan said. “He’ll miss one and he’ll want to know what happened. He is concerned with the mechanics and takes pride in what he does.”
That pride carries over to Murguia’s other roles for the Golden Cranes, which include inside linebacker and tight end.
Mainly a backup for last season, Esparza said Murguia, who is second on the team in tackles with 18 (five for loss), has filled in well, and like kicking, has branded the linebacker job and made it his own.
“Boy, he stepped in and just took it over,” Esparza said. “I’m not surprised that he’s come on like he has. He took it and ran with it.”
Murguia just hopes he can take his passion one step further one kick at a time.
>> Follow Joshua Weaver on Twitter @OAtheWeave