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Newcomer Vieyra makes a difference
• CHS senior experiences success as first-year kicker
Nicholas Vieyra
Bulldog Nicholas Vieyra, pictured with special teams coach Paul Smith, ranks third on the team in scoring with 41 points.

Senior kicker Nicholas Vieyra played with a heavy heart during the Ceres High School football team’s 27-0 win against visiting Pacheco earlier this month at CUSD Stadium.

Ervin Mendiola, Vieyra’s close friend and former travel soccer teammate, passed away at the age of 17 on Oct. 6. Mendiola was a junior at East Union High School.

“I played this game for him,” he said.

Vieyra channeled his emotions in a positive way while enjoying his best game to date with the Bulldogs.

He made a pair of 45-yard field goals, converted all three of his point-after kicks and totaled three touchbacks versus the Panthers.

“He wanted to honor his friend,” Ceres High special teams coach Paul Smith said. “He was pretty distraught (leading up to the game). He had to miss a practice. We were okay with that because life is more important than football.”

Vieyra, a first-year kicker, ranks third on the team in scoring with 41 points.

“He hung around the team last year,” Smith stated. “He’d practice kicking on one side of the field. He couldn’t play because of his soccer commitment. He was able to commit this year. He has a great attitude. He has a powerful leg. He’s one of the strongest kids, pound-for-pound, in the weight room. He has incredible focus under fire. I can’t say enough good things about him. We have a world of confidence in him. That’s why we named him a team captain for the week last week.”

Vieyra has made five of six field-goal attempts this year.

He’s drilled two 45-yarders, one 44-yarder, one 35-yarder and one 24-yarder.

He’s totaled 14 touchbacks.

He’s converted 26 of 32 PATs.

“It’s been a little bit of a surprise,” Vieyra said while talking about his overnight success on the gridiron. “But I know my talent. I have a lot of confidence in myself. My coaches and teammates believe in me.”

“I can’t remember us having the luxury of having a kicker who can make a 40-yard field goal,” said Brett Johnson, who’s coached football at Ceres High for the past 31 seasons. “He’s exceeded all expectations. He’s done a great job. His focus and lack of rattle is really impressive for a newbie. He’s still learning, which is crazy. His confidence is only going to go up.”

“He’s pretty locked in,” Smith said. “He cares about it. He doesn’t want to let anybody down. He’s eager to do whatever he can to help the team.”

Vieyra watched from the ground while his second 45-yard field-goal attempt split the uprights against Pacheco. He got knocked down by a Panther player.

“His eyes didn’t leave his target when he got leveled,” Smith said. “It was impressive.”

Vieyra planned to play soccer in college. 

He’d also welcome the opportunity to kick at the next level.

“I didn’t think football was my cup of tea,” he said. “I had to get used to it. I adapted. I enjoy it a lot. I’m trying to get a Division-I scholarship.”

“This is something he can do at the college level,” Smith said. “He has incredible focus in the moment. It’s pretty awesome. He’s a special kid.”

Nicholas Vieyra trophy
First-year kicker Nicholas Vieyra is enjoying a memorable first season with Ceres High’s football team.