BELLVILLE – Kadin Chrastina reached the top of the steep Dill Hill first and turned to encourage his Clear Fork teammates during the annual rite-of-passage run.
“Let’s go, guys,” he said on the warm August afternoon. “If we don’t quit here, we won’t quit on the field.”
Leaving anything on the field is anathema to the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior leader of the Colts. Last season he became the first quarterback in the school’s storied football history last season to run and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a single season.
“Kadin is the kind of kid who is not real vocal, but he will always lead by example,” Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll said. “He is very elusive on the field. (But) he is also a warrior. He will fight for the last inch every time. That’s the way he was raised.”
Chrastina may fight for inches, but his success last season was more easily measured by yards — more than 2,600 of them to be exact, as Clear Fork won five of its last six games to finish 7-3.
Operating the Colts’ read-option offense, Chrastina rushed 221 times for 1,308 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging almost 6 yards per carry. He completed 82 of 138 passes for 1,313 yards and 11 more TDs, averaging 16 yards per completion.
He also averaged 22.7 yards on kickoff returns and 11.6 yards on punt returns, easily setting a school record for all-purpose yards in a season, earning first-team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference honors and a spot on the Division IV second-team All-Northwest Ohio team.
As if that wasn’t enough, Chrastina also connected on 28 of 30 PAT kicks and two field goals of 41 and 37 yards.
He was fourth in the area with 146 points — and also averaged 40.2 yards on 46 punts.
How valuable was the second-generation Clear Fork QB, whose father, Jason, was a star signal caller for the Colts?
In a 24-22 Week Seven win against Madison, Chrastina accounted for all of his team’s points with 361 yards from the line of scrimmage, rushing for three TDs and kicking a field goal.
In a rout of Orrville in Week Nine, Chrastina accounted for 29 of Clear Fork’s 35 points. He scored in all phases of the game — including two rushing TDs, one passing touchdown, a 49-yard fumble return for a score and kicked five PATs.
Madison coach Sean Conway labeled Chrastina a great player.
“He makes Clear Fork a very difficult team to plan for because they do so many different things with him,” Conway said. “His ability to get outside the pocket and have the run or pass option makes him awfully hard to stop.”
Individual numbers are not on the sandy-haired young man’s mind as the Colts prep for the Aug. 29 home opener against Fredericktown. Clear Fork finished third in the OCC in 2013 and narrowly missed a spot in the Division IV state playoffs.
“My main goal is to help our team win an OCC title,” Chrastina said. “And we know we could have been in the playoffs last season. That’s what drives me to be better. Those are our goals for this season.”
If Clear Fork is to reach those goals, including a 13th state playoff appearance, Chrastina and his four senior teammates will have to lead the way. A veteran team last year, the Colts have a combined 27 sophomores and freshmen on their 41-man roster this season.
“I enjoy being a senior a lot,” Chrastina said. “We have a very young team and it’s our job to help get the younger guys ready. If they see us seniors pushing and leading the way, they will see the example of what we need to succeed.”
Chrastina will also start at safety again this season, a position he enjoys perhaps even more than QB. That fact doesn’t surprise his coach.
“Kadin is a very physical kid. He could be a linebacker,” Carroll said. “He is very aggressive, but he also plays the pass well. He is what you want back there … tall and rangy and he moves very well.”
Chrastina smiles when asked what enjoys most about playing defense.
“I get to cover passes and come up with interceptions. But I also get to make plays against the run, which a lot of people don’t understand,” Chrastina said. “I (often) don’t get blocked and I have a 10-yard head start to make a big hit. That’s a lot of fun.”
Chrastina’s options will not end when this season is over, nor when high school is over. A two-sport star, Chrastina was second-team all-OCC in basketball last season as a high-scoring guard. What is his favorite sport?
“Whichever one I am playing at the time,” he said with that ever-present smile.