At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Hillcrest senior Ryan Blankenship is built for battle in the trenches.
With good feet and extremely long arms, Blankenship is drawing interest from college scouts. He's been one of Hillcrest's best players in each of the past two seasons, playing for a team that finished with identical 3-7 records in each of its last two seasons.
Big No. 55 knows he plays a position offensive line that doesn't get much publicity, but he relishes the opportunities he has to make an impact.
"I love the counter trey," he said. "I get to pull and get out in space and that feeling you get when it's just me and a smaller defender, that's why I play."
Two things seemed certain when Blankenship started playing football. One, he would wear No. 55 because everyone in his family who played football has, and two, he would play offensive line.
Blankenship's grandfather started the tradition, playing center in Kansas in the 1950s. His father, David, played offensive line for the same Kansas high school, and his brother, Daniel, played offensive line for Hillcrest in the early part of this decade.
"As a father, I always tell my boys they're probably better football players, but I played on better teams," said David Blankenship, whose high-school team made the Kansas state semifinals.
Hillcrest coach Casey Miller first watched Blankenship on film as a sophomore. In the past two years, he's seen a young man grow from a timid sophomore into a practice phenom.
"As a sophomore I said I know you're young, but you're just as big and strong as the seniors," said Miller. "As a senior I have to remind him to tone it down once in a while so he doesn't kill someone."
While Blankenship hasn't enjoyed the rapture of a state title, or even a winning season, he thrives in his Hillcrest football experience, surrounded by the same friends he's known since childhood.
"Hillcrest on Friday night when all the fans come out is a pretty special place," he said.
The Huskies haven't enjoyed a winning season or been to the playoffs in nine years, but Blankenship has his mind set on remedying those two stats. "We'll take it one game at a time, but we want to win a couple of region games and make the playoffs," he said.
Following a family tradition
Ryan Blankenship's brother, Daniel, played offensive line for the Huskies; his father, David, and grandfather both played offensive line while living in Kansas all wore No. 55.
After playing on 3-7 teams in each of the past two seasons, Hillcrest lineman Ryan Blankenship is hoping to lead the Huskies to the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons.
For his candor on the field, Blankenship affectionately was given the name Blankenstein.