After breaking barriers, O.C. kicker looks to break records

Corona del Mar High’s Grif Amies, who was born with a heart defect and has worn a pacemaker since age 7, is two field goals away from breaking the CIF season record.

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Griff Amies is a selective counter.

He's counted the number of unassisted tackles he has recorded this season. He's counted how many yards make up his career long field goal.

Article Tab: Griff Amies can break the CIF mark for field goals in a single season in Saturday's CIF Souther Division final.
Griff Amies can break the CIF mark for field goals in a single season in Saturday's CIF Souther Division final.

He's counted the number of years he has been forced to wear a pacemaker in his upper chest.

But what he can't count is how many times he has shared his story of triumph.

"I've told the story so many times to so many people," Amies said. "They all want to know if I can get tackled or can I tackle somebody. And I say, 'Yeah, I can tackle anybody that gets in my way.'"

Amies, 18, is the field goal kicker for the Corona del Mar Sea Kings, which will take the field Saturday afternoon at Angels Stadium seeking their second consecutive CIF Southern Section Division Title.

But for Amies, there will be a little bit more on the line come kickoff time.

Amies has racked up 21 field goals this season, one shy of the CIF single-season record. He needs two field goals in the Sea Kings final game to become sole possessor of the CIF record.

"It's something that I never really thought of at the beginning of the season," he said. "But it's amazing that I could possibly break the record. I've been working so hard since I was little and I feel like all my hard work is paying off."

Indeed, hard work is something Amies has become accustomed to, on and off the field.

He was born with a heart defect that required him to have surgery days after he was born and remain in the hospital for four months as a newborn. At age 7, he had to have a pacemaker inserted in his upper chest to support his heart through the night.

"When he was young, we met with his cardiologist, who said, 'I know you love football but it wouldn't be good to be in a position where you can get tackled,'" said Amies' father, John Griffith Amies, who goes by 'Grif.'

Seeing as how Amies had a background in soccer before the pacemaker was inserted, in the fifth grade, his father recommended his son could put his foot to use on the football field.

"I suggested he be a kicker," said the elder Amies. "So, we were out at Newport Harbor High a couple of months later just throwing the football around and Griff said, 'Let me kick one.' He kicked it from about the 22-yard line and made it. I went and got it, he kicked it again, made it again."

Amies' father said that after noticing his son's talent on the football field, he purchased 10 footballs, which they began to put in use on a daily basis, kicking field goals at Newport Harbor High.

As he was entering middle school, Amies began to work with Brad Bohn, founder of West Coast Kicking Academy and the current special teams coach at CDM.

"Brad has been Griff's kicking coach since middle school and he didn't take on a lot of kids," said Amies' dad. "Brad is the one that kept the passion going."

Bohn founded West Coast Kicking Academy a decade ago and in his time working with Amies, he's noticed that Amies' mentality is what gives him an edge.

"His determination and competitiveness are two things that set him apart," Bohn said. "He's a hard-working kid and that's what has gotten him to where he is. He loves to overachieve and prove people wrong."

Bohn says that at the end of practices, the team will crowd around Amies, yelling at him in order to simulate a playoff atmosphere. Amies then must kick field goals as if the game is on the line.

"Griff is going to be able to go to the next level," said Bohn, who played one NFL season with the Detroit Lions. "Whatever he sets his mind to, he's gong to be able to do. At the end of the practice, when the whole team stands around him, he'll make 19 out of 20 kicks. I've seen him make over 60-yard field goals in practice."

A 60-yard field goal is a feat that even some NFL kickers can't quite accomplish.

Now, having already won one CIF ring and still forming a dynamic duo with Bohn, Amies is on the cusp of stamping his name in the CIF record books.

But first, there is the business of winning the game.

"It would be great for Grif to break the record but we are playing the game to win, not to break any records," said CDM coach Scott Meyer. "If it happens and we win the game, it would be the ideal scenario."

Amies wholeheartedly supports his coach's view on the record.

"I'm sure Coach is aware of it but we try not to bring it up too much," Amies said. "We're focused on winning on Saturday. I would like to get it, but more importantly, I want to win CIF."

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