Ninth and final in a series of stories profiling top high school football players by position. Today Aidan Flintoft, Oaks Christian Punter and Kicker.
There’s one street in Pacific Palisades where you might see the strangest scenes in a driveway – players practicing catching the ball while using a JUGS machine.
Aidan Flintoft, senior punter and placekicker at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, has George Caratan, a Connecticut punter, as his neighbor. Flintoft’s brother Colin was punting for UCLA, as was his cousin Stafon. When they’re all in town they use the JUGS machine, causing strangers to stare at them and wonder what’s in the water in Palisades?
The Flintofts have been known to go into the hallway of the family home and practice falling.
Aidan has enjoyed a meteoric rise in football. He didn’t have a single punt in high school until last season, when he averaged 40.1 yards. He attended Los Angeles Windward as a freshman and sophomore while considering making football his sport.
“What happened is my cousin was a soccer player at Loyola and like what happens with a lot of soccer teams and kickers, they find a soccer player to join the team,” he said. “He was really good, he went to UCLA and it got my brother into it and because my brother got into it, I eventually got into it.”
During the March 2020 COVID-19 shutdown, Flintoft spent weekends learning from former UCLA punter Aaron Perez Punt. Flintoft is apparently a quick learner considering how high and how far his punts fly, not to mention that he can throw field goals out to 50 yards.
“There are many keys to being a good player,” he said. “I would say that I’m probably just a measured person who doesn’t ride the highs too much or doesn’t see the lows and is calm during games. Don’t let a bad ball affect you too much. There’s so much tech to poke at. You have to invest the time.”
Punting evolves into more than just snapping and kicking. The rise of Australian players with their roll out technique is prompting others to do the same, along with directional punting to aid coverages.
It still comes down to doing the little things to get the ball flying high and far, including a quick release to avoid getting blocked.
“A lot of that is flexibility, being able to wrap your body like a rubber band, shooting fast, making really good contact at the sweet spot and making sure it goes off with a spiral at the right launch angle,” he said.
Foosball and punters are notoriously different, but Flintoft emphasizes, “I like to think of myself as normal.”
He’s a straight-A student committed to Stanford. He got the perfect score of five on his three advanced placement exams last semester.
As for handling pressure, he said: “I don’t really think punting is a pressure thing. I try not to see any of this or any kicks as pressure. Every step is the same. It moves your body in a smooth way.”
Of course, kickers had a lot to say about the attention Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson drew during the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium when he decided to stay outside of the locker room to watch the halftime show.
“Everyone I spoke to said, ‘This is sick, good for him.’ There are probably some who didn’t like it,” he said.
Kickers/Punters to watch
Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year, Comment
Nathan Alexander, Westlake, 5-10, 152, Sr. Makes field goals from 45 yards, booms punts
Mathias Brown, Sunny Hills, 6-0, 160, Sr. made six of nine field goal attempts
Dylan Fingersh, Capistrano Valley, 5-10, 175, Jr. Made eight of nine field goal attempts
Ismael Figueroa, Temescal Canyon, 5-10, 170, Sr. Made all seven of his field goal attempts
Aidan Flintoft, Oaks Christian, 6-1, 185, Sr. Stanford averaged 40.1 yards per punt
Clint Geryak, St. Francis, 5-9, 140, Sr. pole vaulter made nine of 12 field goal attempts
Mark Hyan, Loyola, 6-4, 210, Jr. soccer star has a great leg
Dieter Kelly, Orange Lutheran, 5-10, 195, Sr. Always a threat when he kicks field goals
John Norell, Glendora, 5-9, 160, Sr. Made six field goal attempts out of 10, has 4.7 GPA.
Blake Wilson, Santa Margarita, 5-10, 180, Sr. Football/Baseball star does it all
https://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/story/2022-08-16/aidan-flintoft-oaks-christian-high-punter-kicker Prep football preview 2022: K/P Aidan Flintoft is a quick study