Flynn McPheron believes there is only one time anyone should know his name on the football field — on a recruiting video.
As the Southridge High School center/long snapper, McPheron does his job with precision and accuracy. That quarterback Mason Martin and punter/kicker Hunter Spiva are happy is all that matters.
“He is a major key of the special teams,” Spiva said. “He is the one that makes it happen. He is the one that gets it there before anyone can get to us. A regular high school snapper would be at 12 yards, and they would barely get it to you. With Flynn, I’m 15 yards, and he gets it to me in .8 seconds. That’s NFL times. He is really good at what he does.”
McPheron, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior, has been honing his craft for almost 10 years. He has gone to long-snapping clinics and camps. He recently was named a Ray Guy Prokicker.com Top Prospect Award winner. The program identifies the nation’s top kickers, punters and long snappers, and promotes them for college recruitment.
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McPheron’s performance at the Seattle camp during the summer earned him a trip to the National Prospect Camp in Kentucky. With summer football activities starting under new Southridge coach Keith Munson, McPheron passed on the Kentucky trip.
“It’s nice to have recognition, but at the same time, you just have to do your job,” McPheron said. “Our kicker, he kicks the ball. I snap the ball and repeat the cycle. You snap it good, no one knows your name. That’s fine. You can have 100,000 perfect snaps every day — but one bad snap and your job could be gone. You shoot it over the guy’s head, it’s your fault. The holder misplaces it, they will find a way to put it on you.”
Bad snaps are not in McPheron’s playbook. He hasn’t had a questionable snap since his freshman year. The hardest job on the special teams unit lies on sophomore Mikael Failor to be able to catch the ball when McPheron zips it back.
McPheron and the Suns (3-3, 2-2 Mid-Columbia Conference) will be back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday, hosting Hanford (3-3, 1-3) at Lampson Stadium.
The camps and clinics have paid off for McPheron and Southridge. For Munson, it was one less thing to worry about when taking over a new program.
“It’s nice to have long snappers, kickers and punters built in,” Munson said. “You don’t go very far without a line. I don’t care what level you are at, long snappers are key. The shotgun snaps have been great, and our special teams have done a good job.”
Spiva is averaging 33.1 yards per punt this season, second behind Walla Walla’s Bryar Jensen (38.6). He also has converted 11 of 14 PATs and 1 of 2 field goals.
“Being a special teams guy most of my life, it’s very cool to have someone like him to put the ball back there,” Spiva said. “Flynn will make a name for himself. We are fortunate to have him here. I’m glad he’s on my side.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I prefer to think of it as snapping the ball to make the kicker look good,” McPheron said. “If I snap it to him perfectly, and he kicks it perfectly, everything goes smoothly. The way I see it, my job is to make Hunter look good.”
McPheron started playing football in the Kennewick Grid Kids program for the Tigers, then went on to play at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School. All in the middle of the offensive line.
Once he got to Southridge, he was brought up to varsity his freshman season as a long snapper. As a sophomore, he earned the starting center job — which he still has — and continues to feed Spiva the ball to work his magic.
“With the position, there is always pressure,” McPheron said. “As a lineman, you miss your block, and coach is cracking down on you. As a quarterback, you overthrow or underthrow, there is no difference in pressure. It’s a matter of having the right mindset. It’s taken years to hone my skills. As a long snapper, you are expected to be perfect. With training, you can pull it off.”
McPheron said he has had a few colleges reach out to him, but being a junior, he has another year to continue perfecting his craft.