Corona del Mar High kicker Griff Amies has had a remarkable season with 21 field goals this year. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / November 29, 2012)

The kicker in football is someone who doesn't always get a lot of credit.

Sure, a game-winning kick is great, but more often the kicker is someone who is taken for granted at best and blamed for a team's troubles at worst. He's usually seen as somewhat eccentric, too, like the fictional Miami Dolphins kicker Ray Finkle in the movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." Finkle blames Dan Marino for not keeping the laces out at the end of a fictional Super Bowl game.

These things aren't true for the Corona del Mar High football team. Heading into the CIF Southern Section Southern Division title game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Angel Stadium, the Sea Kings know they have a heck of a kicker.

His name is Griff Amies, and he's doing things that kickers have never done at CdM, in Orange County and maybe even in the state of California.

Amies, a senior, has made a county-record 21 field goals this year. The state high school record is 22 field goals, set in 1994 by former Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and UCLA All-American kicker Chris Sailer.

That was also the national record until last year, when Cole Hedlund of Argyle (Texas) made 25 field goals. But Sailer's state mark is still within Amies' sights. Sailer helped his team win CIF in 1994, and Amies would like to be able to say the same.

"It'd be a great feeling to get that record," Amies said. "I really would like to get that record, but I'd also like to win CIF, most importantly."

Amies has been money this year for the Sea Kings, and his field goals haven't been "gimmies." His long was 52 yards against Western. Eight of his field goals have been 40 yards or more.

But Amies has also been effective on kickoffs. It's been important for a CdM team that has three straight shutouts coming into Saturday's title game. It's just one of the many ways he helps the team, said CdM special teams and receivers coach Brad Bohn.

Bohn, who runs the West Coast Kicking Academy, has coached Amies for more than six years.

"There's a lot of kids who can kick a ball far, but I think what separates Griff is that he's such a determined kid," Bohn said. "He's really competitive and he's really driven. When he steps out on the field, I think he has a look in his eye that's different than other kids.

"He's done a great job with an opportunity that he's been given. Most kids would never be in this situation, because most teams don't kick this many field goals. I think the coaching staff and his teammates all have so much respect for him, and so much confidence in what he does … Last game he hit a 47-yarder, and nobody said anything. It's almost expected now because he goes out there and does it so frequently, but a 47-yard field goal is not a chip shot."

Amies said he aims to play in college, as well as eventually in the NFL. It's been quite a ride for the CdM senior, who said he had a heart issue when born and had to have open heart surgery. Amies spent so much time in hospitals when he was young that it hurt his development.

Griff, who stands 5-foot-11, is now very strong. He participates in all of the team's weight training, CdM Coach Scott Meyer said.

"He does everything anyone else does," Meyer said. "It's not like he's just a kicker who comes out. He's actually a football player that goes out there and kicks. He's a major part of the team. He doesn't try to take any shortcuts … He's been such a weapon for us."

Bohn said Griff has put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle in the past year. Growing up, he wasn't always that strong.

You may know Ryan Baker as the coach of the Rea boys' dynasty in the Daily Pilot Cup soccer tournament. But Amies' dad, Grif (with one "F"), hired Baker when Griff was young to help him with his kicking skills. At the time, Griff was in adaptive physical education, for kids who aren't up to their grade level in skills like coordination and balance.

"Griff couldn't even run properly," Baker, who teaches P.E. at Rea, said of those early years. "His hand-eye coordination was really bad. I just worked with him for years … We probably got him out of adaptive P.E. by the second grade. Anything he was interested in, we would go do. He always had a strong leg."

Griff had a pacemaker put into his chest when he was 7, because his standing heart rate was drifting low at night. Now, the cardiologist said Griff is in such good shape that he no longer needs it.

Griff always strove to get better, even at that young age. By the time he was 12, he could consistently make 35-yard field goals.