He heard the football stories. He watched his older brother play the game while learning all about it.
Kyle Santorine has always been free to follow his own path, but it seemed like he was born to be a football player. His father played collegiately at Springfield College, Mass., and his brother, Joe, started alongside him on the offensive line on Lewisburg's history-making 2010 District 4 Class AA champion. Kyle was born with football in his blood.
"My brother being an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman and my dad playing defensive line in college, it sure does run in the family," Kyle said.
Santorine was the last in his family to play and learn the game. He might also be its best player.
Santorine concluded a dominant scholastic career at Lewisburg last fall, becoming a perennial offensive line all-star. Friday, he receives one last chance to showcase his skills at the high school level as he plays for the South in the District 4 North-South All-Star Game at South Williamsport's Rodney K. Morgans Stadium.
"It's an honor to be picked and play with the area's best," Santorine said. "It's so much fun playing one more high school game against guys from the area."
Santorine being picked to play was a no-brainer. He was one of the district's premier linemen the past four seasons and was instrumental to Lewisburg becoming a district power. In the center's four years starting, Lewisburg won 42 games, captured the program's first district and league championships, reached the postseason every year and advanced to the 2010 state semifinals.
Playing both ways, Santorine was a force and helped Lewisburg be among the district's top offensive and defensive units each season. He was a rock again last fall as Lewisburg went 8-3 and reached districts once again despite having lost a good core of players from the previous season. He was a first team HAC-II all-star at center as well as the Sun-Gazette's Lineman of the Year. Lewisburg averaged more than 30 points and 300 yards per game with Santorine anchoring a strong line.
As good as Santorine was last year, the 2010 season will always be the most special to him. From 2001-2007 Lewisburg won 10 total games and never had a winning season. By Santorine's freshman year, the Dragons played in their first district final and the next year they started 14-0 before reaching the state's Final 4 and nearly reaching the state championship.
The years will continue going by but the memories will only grow stronger, especially since Santorine started alongside his mentor and his brother, Joe.
"It was a heck of a ride. I'm really happy with how we performed and we were so close to winning it all my sophomore year," Santorine said. "Whenever I'm in the weight room we talk about a game from that season and whenever my brother is back from college we talk about those games."
Santorine, a 20-win wrestler last winter, hopes to have similar college football stories to tell in a few years. The strong, agile and intelligent center will play at Dickinson. The bonus for Santorine is that, just like at Lewisburg, he has an opportunity to start as a freshman. The team's starting center last fall graduated and Santorine will have as much a chance as anyone to earn that coveted spot.
"They have a great reputation for education and the campus is absolutely beautiful and the coaches are very nice and personable guys. It just drew me in," Santorine said. "The center spot is up for grabs. They're expecting some freshmen to come in and step up and I'm hoping to be that guy that does that."
It would be foolish to bet against Santorine. He has the work ethic to match his talent. He knows what it takes to succeed at the next level since his father did so years ago. All he wants is a chance to earn that job and that's what he now has.
Friday, he has one more chance to play high school football and experience the Friday Night Lights. It is a chance to remind all those on the field and attendance why he is one of the district's best players. It is one more chance to play alongside fellow lineman and all-star Alex Starmack and to try and leave the high school game victorious.
The game could go back and forth. His collegiate career might be filled with ups and downs. Santorine has learned how to weather any storm, though.
"When you're down there's always a chance to get back up," Santorine said. "There were plenty of times when our team was down and losing and we came back as a team and came together as brothers and went out there and got the job done for the team."
Looks like the family tradition is in good hands.