A stress fracture in your foot isn’t typically a great way to start training camp.
It actually worked out well for Ryan DiVergilis.
DiVergilis is a senior at Archbishop Wood High School, and right after the team started practicing for the season, he suffered an injury. He was unable to compete in practice because of the injury, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t contributing.
“I was at a special team practice and I went over and picked up the whiteboard so (the coach) could show them something,” DiVergilis recalled. “And when I picked it up, my coach said, ‘You look like a coach.’ I always knew I loved being around football, but that was really the first time I started thinking about it. Now I know that’s what I want to do.
“I think I want to be a coach and a teacher. I would teach anything. I don’t really care what I teach. I just like showing people what to do and explaining it to them. It’s fun when you see them learn.”
This year, DiVergilis and his teammates learned that they can accomplish a lot, even when things don’t start out the way they hoped.
The Somerton native lined up all over the field for the Vikings, and thanks to his play and just as important his leadership, Wood won a Class 5A state championship. In the finals, they knocked off Cheltenham 19-15.
The season didn’t start out like a typical dominating year for the Vikings. They were 4-3 after seven games, including a loss to Roman Catholic. But they knocked off La Salle the week after that setback and went on to win their final seven games of the season to leave Hershey with their third state championship in the past four years.
Others may not have been believers, but DiVergilis and his teammates never had a doubt in their minds.
“We knew right from the start that we had a chance to have a very good year,” DiVergilis said. “We were a really young team, there were only seven seniors on the team, but before the season, we were talking and we said, ‘Why not us?’ We knew that if we did what we needed to do, we had the talent to go very far. We knew we had a chance to win a state championship.”
DiVergilis also knew he had to do his part.
And that meant doing a little bit of everything.
A natural strong safety, DiVergilis lined up everywhere on the field. On defense, he mostly played safety, but depending on the outfit, he also played a little outside linebacker.
On offense, he never knew where he was going to be. He played running back, fullback and his natural offensive position, wide receiver.
He also was the long snapper on special teams. He rarely left the field and that’s exactly how he liked it.
“I love playing defense, that’s what I enjoy the most,” DiVergilis said. “But I liked playing offense, too. It didn’t matter where. I liked playing running back, I liked playing receiver. Fullback. It really didn’t matter to me. I just tried to help out wherever they put me.”
He led Wood in interceptions with four. He was fourth in receiving and picked up some tough yards rushing. Overall, he scored six rushing touchdowns and another receiving. And, of course, there was the leadership part of the game. That’s where he really excelled.
“It was good that I played a lot of positions because I had to learn everything,” DiVergilis said. “The more I did, the more I could help people. I had to know the positions because I would play them, so if someone had a question, I could help them. I liked that. I think that’s a big part about being a captain.”
DiVergilis prides himself on being a good leader, which is something he learned at home.
He credits his parents, Tracy and Daniel, with supporting him his entire career. And he thinks the state championship belongs just as much to them as it does to him.
“My parents are very supportive,” said DiVergilis, who is an only child. “My mom was a football mom. She did a lot for us. She was at all the games and did a lot for us. Both my parents did a lot for me, but my mom was really great. She did a lot for us.”
DiVergilis, who recently won a Mini Maxwell Award for his season, still has some unfinished business at Wood. He plays outfield for the Vikings baseball team and nothing would be better than winning two championship during his senior season. But he also has to find a place where he can live out his dream of continuing his football career while getting a degree to ensure he can become a teacher and a coach.
He’s yet to make a decision, but he does have some teams interested. One of those teams might have the inside track because of a connection to the Wood program.
“I’ve talked with Ursinus, and (former Wood coach Steve) Devlin is there, so it would be great to play for him again,” DiVergilis said. “I live around the corner from him. He’s one of the main reasons I went to Wood. I would love to play for him again. I want to go somewhere where I can play and learn.”
Just like he did at Wood.
“Going to Wood was the best decision I ever made,” DiVergilis said. “It’s been great. It’s only about 20 minutes away and I knew a lot of people who were going there from my grade school. It has been great for me. I love everything about it.”