Conner Krenk doesn’t have the imposing body of a defensive lineman.
The Blackman senior is just 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds.
“I’m not a typical defensive tackle at all,” said Krenk with a smile. “My speed helps a lot because those big tackles sometimes they can’t catch you. Sometimes you get under the guards and they can’t push you anywhere.
“I use my size as an advantage to get past an opponent.”
Krenk will go up against one of the biggest offensive lines in the state at 7 p.m. Friday when the fifth-ranked Blaze (10-2) play at second-ranked Oakland (12-0) in a Class 6A state quarterfinals at Ray Hughes Stadium.
Krenk was a linebacker prior to this season as a backup to starters Antonio Allen or Austin Mosier.
When given a chance to change positions he agreed, realizing this was his best shot of getting on the field, and staying there.
“I was iffy at first with my size,” Krenk said. “But once I started playing, I decided it was the best position I could be in to help my team out.”
Krenk entered last week with 31 tackles and three sacks. He had a pair of sacks in Blackman’s 47-14 rout of Ravenwood in the second round of the playoffs.
Blackman’s defense is allowing 208.4 yards a game, including 103.6 yards a game on the ground. Opponents average 13.2 points a game.
Krenk said his previous experience at linebacker helped him in the transition to the defensive line.
“We always work on quickness as a linebacker,” he said. “My reads are very good with the guard, because I was a linebacker. Last year I didn’t play at all.
“This year, I love it. I wouldn’t be a linebacker if I had to choose.”
Krenk was told in the spring of the position change by linebacker coach John McCreery and defensive coordinator Steve Williams. Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said his size has given him leverage over bigger offensive linemen.
“His lower half of his body is just really strong,” Shadowens said. “That makes him tough to block.
“He’s got an incredible first step. We move him a lot up front. You get those big 290 pounders chasing him inside and outside. And he’s so strong that when they do attach to him, they have a tough time staying on him because he’s so strong and plays with such great leverage because he’s not as tall.”