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 a street in Pacific Palisades, where you might see the strangest of scenes in one driveway — punters practicing catching the ball while using a JUGS machine.
Aidan Flintoft, a senior punter and placekicker at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, has George Caratan, a punter for Connecticut, as his neighbor. Flintoft’s brother, Colin, punted for UCLA, as did his cousin, Stafon. When they’re all in town, they’ll use the JUGS machine, causing strangers to stare 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 drop drills.
Aidan has had 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 debating whether to make football his sport.
“What happened is my cousin was a soccer player at Loyola and as it kind of happens with a lot of football teams and kickers, they find a soccer player to join the team,” he said. “He did really well, went to UCLA and it got my brother into it and because my brother got into, I eventually got into it.”
During the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020, Flintoft started spending weekends learning to punt from former UCLA punter Aaron Perez. Flintoft is apparently a fast learner considering how high and how far his punts are flying, not to mention he can kick field goals up to 50 yards.
“There’s a lot of keys to being a good punter,” he said. “I’d say probably just being a measured person, not riding the highs too much or not seeing the lows and being composed during games. Not letting any bad ball affect you too much. There’s so much technique to punting. You must have to put in the time.”
Punting is evolving into more than just taking the snap and kicking. The rise of Australian punters with their roll-out technique is causing others to learn to do the same, along with directional punting to help coverages.
It still comes down to executing the little things to make the ball go high and far, including a quick release to avoid it being blocked.
“A lot of it is flexibility, being able to wind up your body like a rubber band, shoot it fast, making really good contact on the sweet spot, making sure it comes off with a spiral with the right launch angle,” he said.
Kickers and punters have been known to be a little different, but Flintoft insists, “I like to think of myself as normal.”
He’s an A student who committed to Stanford. He earned perfect scores of five on his three advanced placement exams last semester.
As for dealing with pressure, he said, “I don’t really think about punting as a pressure thing. I try not to think about all of it or any of the kicking stuff as pressure. Every kick is the same. It’s moving your body in some uniform way.”
Of course, kickers had a lot to say about the attention generated by Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson during the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium when he decided to stay outside the locker room to watch the halftime show.
“Everybody I talked to said, ‘That’s sick, good for him.’ There’s probably a few who didn’t like it,” he said.
Kickers/punters to watch
Name, School, Ht., Wt., Yr., 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. Converted 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 commit 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 terrific leg
Dieter Kelly, Orange Lutheran, 5-10, 195, Sr. Always a threat kicking field goals
John Norell, Glendora, 5-9, 160, Sr. Made six of 10 field-goal attempts, has 4.7 GPA.
Blake Wilson, Santa Margarita, 5-10, 180, Sr. Football/baseball star does everything