Though he saw some limited action for the football and boys' basketball teams and was the starting catcher for the baseball team as a freshman, Lynden's Josh Kraght really didn't break into consciousness of most Whatcom County sports fans until his sophomore year.
And it didn't take him long to make a memorable impression.
After losing a fumble on the Lions' 5-yard line on his first touch of the 2010 football season, Kraght rallied to amass 271 combined yards passing, rushing and receiving while throwing for two touchdowns and scoring another.
"'Setback, comeback,' is what we all say," Kraght said after leading Lynden to that 37-18 season-opening victory over Centennial (B.C.). "We say that all the time."
Turns out there weren't too many setbacks that Kraght would have to come back from for the next three years. He leaves as one of the most accomplished and decorated three-sport athletes Whatcom County has ever produced.
After a strong senior season, Kraght was selected The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Boys' Athlete of the Year for the second straight school year.
Though Kraght was a true three-sport athlete, football was definitely where he gained his greatest notoriety, and it is the sport he will continue playing this fall for Portland State University.
During his three years starting for Lynden mostly at quarterback and cornerback, the football team went 37-2 (94.9 winning percentage), including 8-1 in state playoff games (88.9) and won a pair of state titles.
Individually, he produced 8,765 yards running, passing and receiving and had a hand in 124 touchdowns, rushing for 47, catching another and passing for 76.
He saved the best for last, rushing for 894 yards on 127 carries (7.0 average) and 16 touchdowns while hitting 178 of 269 pass attempts for 2,740 yards and 32 TDs as a senior.
"Josh is an incredibly special athlete and very special person," Lynden football coach Curt Kramme said after Kraght quarterbacked Lynden to a second consecutive Class 2A state title in December. "He has meant so much to this program on the field over the past three years, but, as I've said before, the thing I'm going to remember about him is what a great kid he is off it."
Lions basketball coach Brian Roper and baseball coach Cory White often said the same thing.
And that's saying a lot, considering he meant just as much to those two teams as he did the football team.
"An ultra competitive kid who loved wearing the Green and Gold, Josh led us in assists and was a leader in every athletic sense of the word," Roper wrote in an email. "Josh is relentlessly positive in all kinds of situations. He always seems to be in the center of things - point guard, quarterback and catcher. Best of all, Josh is not impressed with himself; he is a guy who is grounded in his faith and who lives for others."
Perhaps that showed best on the basketball court, where Kraght allowed teammates to shine with his ability to read the court and get them the ball. That allowed Lynden to post a 61-14 record over the past three years (81.3 win percentage), win a 2A state title in 2012 and get within one cold-shooting night in the state semifinals from playing for another last winter.
Kraght was perfectly content to average 3.7 points in 79 career games for the Lions, though he did show an ability to hit an outside jumper or drive the lane when needed and scored in double figures three times.
"In every sport he participated in, there was no doubt who was the leader in the huddle - on the field or on the court," White said last year. "His presence on any field demands respect. It's not that he commands it - it's just his work ethic and his attitude. He's a guy that constantly has the ship headed in the right direction."
The ship he first took control of was the Lynden baseball team.
Kraght was inserted as the Lions starting catcher almost from Day 1 his freshman year, and he never relinquished it.
Though there were definitely some growing pains early, Kraght and a talented class around him continued to mature throughout.
By the time he was a junior, Lynden was able to reach to the Class 2A state title game for the first time in the program's history. Kraght not only helped the cause with his leadership, but he hit .309 (26 for 84) with 20 RBI, 10 extra base hits and 16 runs scored.
This year he hit .326 (28 for 86) with nine doubles, a triple and two homers, drove in 16 runs and stole eight bases. He also helped the Lions win their first league baseball title in 15 years, return to the state quarterfinals and finish with a 45-8 (84.9 percent) record over the past two years.
But as all three of his high school coaches have said, as impressive as the wins, titles and statistics have been for Kraght during his stay at Lynden High School, they aren't likely what he'll be remembered for.
"I think anybody that crosses paths with Josh Kraght, whether you're a teammate, coach, parent, fan, opponent or official, he's going to make an impact on you, and you're going to remember him for quite a while," White said.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
ALL-WHATCOM COUNTY BOYS' ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2012-13: Josh Kraght, Lynden
2011-12: Josh Kraght, Lynden
2010-11: Zach Slesk, Meridian
2009-10: Blair Bomber, Lynden
2008-09: Casey Locker, Ferndale
2007-08: Andrei Lintz, Meridian
2006-07: Chris Bolt, Lynden
2005-06: Jake Locker, Ferndale
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.