By Jim Irish
Former Bastrop Tribe football athlete Nathaniel Heilig is continuing to demonstrate his kicking prowess in college.
Competing for NAIA Tabor (Kan.) College, Heilig kicked a 50-yard field goal in a 26-16 loss to University (Kan.) of St. Mary on Nov. 12. As a result, he was selected Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Player of the Week.
Heilig has started for two seasons at Tabor
This season, Heilig, a sophomore, converted 6-of-11 field goals and 22-of-23 extra points. Tabor completed its season at 6-5 but did not qualify for the NAIA playoffs.
Tabor football coach Mike Gardner said the team has recovered four onside kicks from Heilig this season. Gardner also said that approximately 40% of Heilig’s kickoffs were unreturnable. In college, a kickoff has to travel 65 yards to reach the end zone.
Gardner, a former All-American collegiate kicker at Baker (Kan.) University, said Heilig is “improving” his distance on kickoffs.
In his freshman season at Tabor, Heilig converted 10-of-18 FGs and 28-of-29 EPs.
Heilig starred for Tribe for three seasons. Overall, he converted 11-of-17 (64%) FGs and 188-of-204 (92%) EPs in high school. His longest field goal for Tribe was 43 yards.
Tribe won the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations (TAIAO) state six-man championship each season during Heilig’s three years on the squad.
Tribe, ranked No. 22 among all six-man teams in Texas by MaxPreps, has a 10-0 record this season. The Warriors will compete in the TAIAO Division II quarterfinals against Mesquite Founders Classical (3-7) at Smithville's Barry Field at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Running back Joshua McAlister, a 5-11, 165-pound junior, leads the Tribe offense this season with 1,647 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns. He also has two receiving touchdowns.
Jim Irish is a freelance writer living in Bastrop, Texas