Crater’s Kenny Fahndrich takes a handoff during a practice at Crater High School on Thursday.

Running with a Purpose

CENTRAL POINT — Spend any time around Crater senior Kenny Fahndrich and it doesn't take long to figure out a few things about him.

First of all, he loves to talk. Really loves it ... to the point that even he realizes it can be a little much sometimes.

Secondly, he loves football and is confident in his ability to play the game. Ask him to do anything on the gridiron and he'll oblige. Offense or defense, it doesn't matter.

And maybe more important than all others, it doesn't take long to realize that Fahndrich is the kind of person whose motor is stuck on full throttle. Out of respect for his fellow teammates and Crater High coaches, he knows no other way than to leave it all out on the field.

All of those characteristics blend together to make Fahndrich a vital cog to the Comets' success, even more so than anyone expected heading into the season.

With the season-ending loss of tailback D.J. Pree on the second play of the year, someone had to step up and fill the void.

Enter Fahndrich, who was already destined for some work at fullback to complement his play at linebacker.

"He's had to shoulder a lot more of the load in the running back position," says Crater coach John Beck. "He was always going to get some carries, but with D.J. being out, he's the focal point runner now."

"That was just a sad deal when we lost D.J.," adds the coach, "but I really thought Kenny and the rest of the team really stepped it up and did the things they needed to do to take the place of D.J. I was pretty impressed with their maturity and how they handled the adversity with him."

And while the loss of last year's leading rusher in the Southern Sky Conference took a little wind out of Crater early, the Comets appear to be coming on strong heading into a big game tonight at Jefferson.

Fahndrich, 17, ranks second in the SSC thus far with 269 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 51 carries, and remains one of Crater's leading tacklers on defense.

"He's made some big plays and performed well on both sides of the ball," says Beck.

The added responsibility hasn't really been a big deal for Fahndrich, who just looks at it as another way he can help the team.

"We just do what we do," says the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder. "No matter what happens, we just battle the adversity and play."

"It's a lot on my shoulders," he adds, "but being a senior and in this position before, I think I can handle it. I love playing football and I'm going to do whatever it takes."

For someone his size, Beck says Fahndrich has pretty quick feet and the ability to meet defenders head on if the need arises.

"Kenny's a pretty physical runner," says the coach. "He'll avoid you if he can avoid you, but if not, he's not afraid to lower his shoulder pads to get some extra yards."

That's about the way Fahndrich sees it, although the senior tends to look at just about everything with a little more color than most.

"When I hit the hole, I'm going to go full boar," he warns. "If you're going to get in my way, you better be ready to tackle or I'm going to go right over you."

Yes, he's confident, but Fahndrich also tends to back up what he says.

"He'll really let you know what he thinks, good or bad," Beck says with a laugh.

But before you pass judgment, once again it's important to delve more into who Fahndrich truly is.

He was given a jolt of inspiration a month ago when good friend Randall "Van" Brim was killed in a car crash after returning from a day of rafting in Shady Cove.

Brim's brother, sophomore Marcus Rosenzweig, is also on the Crater football team and the three boys had become good friends over the past four years or so.

"He definitely kept us straight and kept us going," Fahndrich says of the 19-year-old Brim. "The kid always had a smile on his face. If you were down, he would be there to pick you up. He was a one-of-a-kind kid."

At Brim's funeral service, Fahndrich could think of only one thing to do to honor his fallen friend.

"When he died, it was just heartbreaking," he recalls. "He deserves whatever he can get, and I just figured he deserved my season so that's who I'm playing for and what I want my season to be about."

And maybe why tacklers need to be extra cautious when he gets the football and gains momentum.

"I just feel like he's running right beside me and pushing me all the way through," confides Fahndrich on the only subject he has trouble talking about.

"That's my pride and heart right there. I dedicate everything I have out there to him."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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