Daniel Mouro walked off of Don Odishoo Field to a smattering of applause last weekend.
The Merced College sophomore kicker was taken aback.
Mouro's isn't a position that grabs the spotlight or receives many accolades from the team's fan base.
But after watching the Blue Devils struggle with its entire kicking game in 2011, the MC faithful were more than appreciative of Mouro's field goal effort from 54 yards.
Imagine if he'd made the kick.
"It was pretty cool to get the applause, but it was also weird because the ball hit the upright," Mouro said. "How many guys get applause for not making the kick?"
Bob Casey wouldn't have even thought about sending out the field goal unit a season ago.
With no kicker on the roster, Casey was forced to turn to linebacker AJ Hall. He hit three field goals the entire season, all within 29 yards.
Mouro has already surpassed that number in four games and has a long of 43. His 54-yard attempt had enough leg to have been good from 60.
"There's no doubt he gives us a weapon we didn't have last season," Casey said. "There's a lot of times when we would have just had to go for it, because our kickers just didn't have the range.
"When a drive stalls, it's big to be able to send him out there and at least come away with some points."
While the field goals are nice, it's not the only skill Mouro brings to the Blue Devils this season. The former Hilmar star's big leg regularly wins MC the field position battle.
Mouro's punt average of 41 yards ranks fourth in the state and he routinely makes teams drive at least 75 yards with touchbacks on kickoffs.
Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is Mouro feels he's getting a little better every time out.
"I was a soccer player all my life, but I was really too big for it," Mouro said. "I didn't try kicking until my senior year. I didn't have enough units to play last year, but I used the time to get my leg stronger and really work on my punting.
"Lots of guys are going to school on scholarship just to do kickoffs or field goals or punt. I'm able to do all three pretty well, so hopefully there's a future for me.
"The exciting thing is it's still pretty new to me. I learn something new from the coaches or watching film everyday, so I know I can get better."
NorCal-ranked No. 15 MC (2-2) will need Mouro to be at his best on Saturday when No. 13 Diablo Valley College comes to Stadium '76. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The Vikings (1-3) boast the best aerial assault in Northern California, averaging 438 passing yards per game behind sophomore quarterback Quinn Kaehler (1,722 yards, 17 touchdowns, six picks).
DVC has had one of the toughest schedules in the state, too, losing single-score games to State No. 1 San Francisco, No. 6 San Mateo and NorCal No. 12 Santa Rosa.
"Mouro's ability to get us out of trouble and force the other team to drive could be very big," Casey said.