"You have to put the team before yourself," he said.
Their stats don’t show up in the box score. Their plays don’t make for exciting highlight films. They don’t get credit when things go right. And they don’t get showered with glory when their team wins a game.
When they do their jobs, they’ll likely go unnoticed. But when things start to fall apart, they’re often the first to be blamed.
In short, being an offensive lineman is hard.
“It takes a lot to play on the offensive line,” Flagler Palm Coast football coach Travis Roland said. “It takes being selfless. It takes having a lot of heart.”
Offensive lineman are usually a high school coach’s best kids, according to Roland. They’re his hardest workers, the ones who complain the least and the ones who keep pushing through the grind no matter what.
In many ways, they’re the team’s focal point.
And in Roland’s three years at FPC, which so far features 25 wins and three playoff appearances, that’s proven to be the case.
But one Bulldogs offensive lineman in particular stands out among the rest: senior team captain Devon Conkrite, one of the top offensive lineman in Flagler and Volusia counties.
“Devon’s a program kid, a rock solid kid for us,” Roland said. “It’s sad to see him and the rest of the seniors go, but it’s been amazing to watch him grow. It’s awesome to see the fruits of his labor come to fruition for him because he’s worked his butt off to get to where he is as a football player.”
There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’
Devon Conkrite doesn’t really care to have the ball in his hands. He’s never dreamed of making the game-winning throw or the game-winning touchdown.
He’s caught one pass in three years at FPC. It was a last-ditch attempt by the Bulldogs’ quarterback, who was trying to get rid of the ball before he was sacked. Conkrite caught the ball and ran 22 yards, but it was called back due to a penalty.
“That was enough for me,” he said. “That catch covered it.”
Conkrite prefers to stay in the trenches.
“It’s a legalized fight every play,” he said. “It shows who’s the bigger man every play.”
Conkrite transferred to FPC from Springfield High School in Illinois the second semester of his freshman year. He joined the Bulldogs’ football team and was made a starter his sophomore year at left guard — a position he’s served in for the past three years.
Although offensive lineman was the only position he’s played since he first started playing the game in eighth grade, Conkrite initially struggled with the mental fortitude it took to start on the offensive line at the high school level.
But he’s grown so much since his first game with the Bulldogs.
“Over the years, after getting thrown in situations where I had to step up, I learned that I’d rather take a win and no credit than a loss with my name in the paper,” he said. “You have to put the team before yourself.”
Conkrite has a tattoo etched into his left forearm. It’s of GPS coordinates, which lead to Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery more than 1,000 miles away. It’s where his father, John Conkrite — who died in a car crash on March 24, 2015 — is buried.
“Losing my dad, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” Conkrite said. “He was my best friend. Nothing gets harder than that.”
He pays his respects to his father and his cousin Jonathan Conkrite, who died in a car crash on May 22, 2018, every time he walks out onto the field. Before every game, he tapes his wrists and writes their names on it.
The pain of his loss has forged who he is today. It’s made him stronger. It’s helped him deal with adversity and fight through it. And although he’s no longer here, his father is his motivation.
“He’s my rock,” Conkrite said.