An era is coming to a close at Roseville High School. Soon, there will be one less Cunha roaming an academic hallway.
Zac Cunha bounds into his final months before graduation, before embarking on a scholarship tour to Minot State University in Minot North Dakota, where the stout senior will play quarterback on scholarship for a Division II program in the charming town of Minot. His father Larry will return as a teacher and football coach with the Tigers, where he's been a fixture in Roseville orange and balck for more than 25 years in producing consistent winners with a golden reputation as a classy achiever.
Cunha and his father returned from a recruiting trip to Minot over the weekend. The town, the school, the academics, the football family - it all felt right, and the feeling was mutual.
"It was a good trip, a lot of fun and I got to see another part of the country," Cunha said. "My dad and I talked a lot. He definitely helped out and it's been on my mind the last month. Lot of phone calls all over the place, listening to what people had to say. I definitely have peace of mind."
Football has been a family way of life for the Cunha's since before Zac can remember. When he was two years old, Cunha raced onto the football field to tug on his father's shirt. Just had to have a moment with Pops, right then and there, never mind that he was coaching a game at the moment.
Cunha wound up playing for his father at Roseville and certainly etched his name as one of the all-time Tigers quarterback greats for a program that's produced plenty at the position. Cunha fired passes and ran roughshod through defenses as a powerfully built leader out of the spread offense, all while maintaining exceptional grades as a perfect example of a student athlete. Cunha passed for 2,292 yards and 24 touchdowns with just seven interceptions in 230 attempts while facing every powerhouse program in the region in Del Oro, Granite Bay, Folsom, Nevada Union, Pleasant Grove and Vacaville. He also ran for 306 yards and six scores.
Minot isn't in anyone's conversation for a BCS bowl, and its mascot doesn't roll off the tongue of even the most ardent college football fun, but players at small colleges compete every bit as hard. Cunha's father knows. He competed at tiny Carroll College in Helena, Montana a generation ago and soon got into education. Now son is considering a similar path as a teacher and coach, which pleases dad to no end.
"That was a proud moment as well when he talked about getting into education," Coach Cunha said. "He's impressed me for a number of years. It's pride and I'm pleased to watch him take the next step. He's worked his tail off the last few years. I'm extremely happy for him. He's a complete package with academics, an athlete."
Cunha the passer said he will cherish his playing days with his father but is also excited about the future.
"I'm ready," he said. "I know you're not going to be on ESPN at Minot until the playoffs maybe, but I look forward to playing, doing he best I can."
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