Varsity Times Insider High school sports across the Southland

Palisades' Campbell Geddes is part of rising new wave of high school kickers

Eric Sondheimer
Contact ReporterVarsity Times Insider

The surfer dude who kicks field goals for Palisades High, Campbell Geddes, was presented with a tough question.

What produces the more euphoric feeling, making a field goal during a game or riding the perfect wave?

“I’d say kicking a pressure kick because you have everybody watching you,” he said. “You have yelling in your ears.”

Then comes the memory of what it’s like riding one of his seven surfboards off Venice Beach.

“It is sort of like Nirvana when you find that perfect wave,” he said.

Geddes gets to experience the best of both worlds, kicking and surfing. And Palisades football coach Tim Hyde is experiencing euphoria having Geddes on his team.

“He's such a weapon and a luxury at this level,” Hyde said. “I will have no fear to let him kick.”

Geddes’ booming kickoffs for touchbacks are forcing opponents to start drives on their own 20, helping out the defense. He’s also capable of making field goals from 50 yards. He made a 62-yarder in practice in the summer and has four field goals this season.

Geddes is part of the new generation of kickers receiving strong and influential tutoring from private coaches during the off-season. They’re rising up around Southern California and having an effect on their teams.

This season, the longest field goal belongs to Dylan Brady of Santa Margarita. He made a 55-yarder against Mission Hills Alemany and also has 11 consecutive kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Nicholas Barr-Mira of Los Angeles Loyola kicked a 48-yard field goal. Damien Ornelas of Corona Santiago has a 47-yard field goal.

Jack Morrell of Huntington Beach Edison has kicked seven field goals. Javier Beccera of Carson has five field goals. Henry Caceres of Fremont, a soccer player, made a 42-yard field goal.

There are also outstanding punters. Collin Flintoft of Loyola is sending punts high, far and inside the 20 when needed. Thomas Miller of Temecula Valley has a 44.1 average, according to MaxPreps.com. Cade Fuller of Anaheim Servite is at 39.7, with four punts inside the 20.

It’s a fun time to be a kicker. There was a 61-yard field goal in the NFL by Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles. And former Santa Ana Mater Dei kicker Chase McGrath, a freshman walk-on at USC, gave his team a victory over Texas with a field goal in the second overtime.

But kickers remain a luxury for lots of teams. McGrath was an outstanding high school kicker but didn’t have many scholarship offers. He said earlier this week that kickers must not get frustrated when others are unwilling to endorse their value to a program.

“It’s really just about keep working at it,” McGrath said. “With kickers, it’s extremely difficult to get recruited even if you have all the accolades. I was never frustrated because I knew what the recruiting process was like. Always try to reach out to as many coaches as you can. Try to promote yourself.”

As for Geddes, he’s a former club soccer player who started learning how to kick a football in ninth grade at Windward High. When the school went from 11-man to eight-man football, he transferred to Palisades over the summer.

He’s gone from attending classes with less than 15 students to more than 35 in a room and walking down hallways that can be as crowded as an L.A. freeway during rush hour.

But adjusting is no big deal. It’s the life of a kicker who’s expected to handle pressure, deal with changing environments and pretty much work on his own when no one is watching.

Of course, Geddes always can head to the beach for a little surfing to brighten up his day.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

An earlier version of this post spelled Damien Ornelas' last name as Orenlas.
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