He may only be a junior and a first-year starting quarterback, but Kadin Chrastina understands better than most the significance of crisp autumn Friday nights down in the Clear Fork Valley.
Jason Chrastina’s son is well-versed in the proud tradition of Clear Fork football.
“Football,” the younger Chrastina said, “is a pretty big deal around our house.”
North central Ohio’s most tradition-rich program kicks off its golden anniversary celebration Friday when the Colts host longtime Johnny Appleseed Conference rival Ontario at the Colt Corral. The annual Clear Fork Valley Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will follow on Saturday.
Among those being inducted is Kadin Chrastina’s father, a 1995 Clear Fork grad and the first 1,000-yard passer in school history. Jason Chrastina piloted the Colts to a Mohican Area Conference championship and a playoff berth in 1994.
“Dad doesn’t talk a lot about his playing days, but I know he did a lot of good things here,” Kadin Chrastina said. “This is a special weekend for our family. It’s kind of a big deal.”
You wouldn’t know it by talking to Jason Chrastina. The former three-sport standout would rather talk about his son’s future than his own storied past.
“Kadin is a lot more talented than I ever was,” the elder Chrastina said. “He’s just beginning to scratch the surface.”
When pressed, Jason Chrastina reluctantly discusses his playing days.
“We won a conference championship, but we lost to Orrville in the first round of the playoffs,” he said of a 19-0 loss to the Red Riders in the Division IV, Region 14 semifinals. “That (Orrville) team lost to Germantown Valley View in the state championship game that year. They were loaded.”
Like fellow Ohio Cardinal Conference member Orrville, Clear Fork is no stranger to the playoffs. In the 41 seasons the Ohio High School Athletic Association has been sponsoring a postseason tournament, the Colts have advanced 12 times (29 percent). No other school in Richland County has been to the playoffs more often.
“This has always been a football-mad community,” said Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll, a 1980 Clear Fork graduate and an All-Ohioan on the ’79 JAC title team. “After our opener against Fredericktown (another former JAC member), my wife said, ‘It’s nice to see some of the electricity back.’ ”
The Colts held on for a wild 47-40 win over the backyard rival Freddies last week. Kadin Chrastina authored one of the greatest single-game performances in school history, completing 17 of 18 passes for 183 yards and rushing for 105 yards. He also booted a 40-yard field goal, converted 4-of-4 PAT attempts, put three kickoffs into the end zone, handled the punting responsibilities and played safety on defense.
“I told him the only thing he didn’t do was fill up the water bottles,” Carroll said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Chrastina will need to be at his game-breaking best Friday when Ontario comes to town. The Warriors beat Lexington 44-43 in overtime last week.
It’s only fitting Clear Fork’s Hall of Fame celebration would kick off against Ontario. The teams have met 39 times since Bellville and Butler high schools consolidated to form Clear Fork for the 1963-64 school year. The Colts own a 27-11-1 advantage in the all-time series. The teams first met in Week 6 of 1963 with the Colts rolling to a 36-8 win.
The 1963 Clear Fork team, which was 9-0-1 and won a JAC title, will be inducted into Clear Fork’s Hall of Fame this weekend. Members of that team will serve as honorary captains for Friday’s game.
In addition to Jason Chrastina, the 2013 Class of individual enshrinees includes Luke Izer (Bellville Class of 1956), Chuck Golden (1979), and Matt Schlosser (1999).
“People seem to be excited about the 50-year celebration,” said Clear Fork Valley Athletic Hall of Fame treasurer Dan Shipley, a 1970 Clear Fork graduate. “Football is a way of life here. People have always been passionate about it.”
Jason Chrastina agreed.
“When you look back, both Bellville and Butler had rich football traditions before the schools consolidation,” Jason Chrastina said. “When you take two storied programs like that and put them together, it’s no wonder football is such a big deal here.”
Perhaps one day down the road, the Hall of Fame will open its doors to Jason Chrastina’s son. The elder Chrastina had some fatherly advice for Kadin.
“I tell him to play every down like it is his last,” he said. “He should make every play count.”
Follow Curt Conrad on Twitter @curtjconrad.