Clarke junior wide receiver Dylan Diveney earned third-team honors on the Class 2A Iowa Newspaper Association all-state team, as announced last week.
The 6-3, 170-pound receiver is the only player named to the nine slots for wide receivers and tight ends who will return next season, as the other eight selections were all seniors.
“I’m very excited he’s only a junior and he’s coming back next year,” first-year Clarke head coach Michael Kline said. “I’m excited to have another year to work with him, and hopefully develop his route-running skills some more. You can’t really teach the desire to go get the football. When the ball is in the air, he thinks it is his to go catch.”
Diveney finished ninth in Class 2A in receiving yards for the season, racking up 718 yards on 30 catches for a 3-7 Clarke team. Among the top nine in receiving yardage, Diveney had the best yards per catch average at 23.9. He also finished with eight touchdown grabs, with a long of 75 yards.
His stats are even more impressive, considering he often found himself double teamed by opposing defenses, and going through a year with three different quarterbacks throwing him the ball.
“I think it says a lot about him going out every game, it didn’t matter who we had playing quarterback,” Kline said. “I think it says something about each of the guys we did have play quarterback, too, that they were able to get him the ball. And our offensive line was able to block and give them time to throw. A lot of teams knew what was coming, and he still had some success catching the ball against double teams.”
Almost as if it were his signature move, many times Diveney went up over one or two defenders and pull down a jump ball before running it in for a score.
“He just has a knack for going and getting the football when its in the air,” Kline said. “I think him just playing a lot of sports helps him to be a very good athlete. He plays basketball and baseball. Playing baseball you get good at judging balls in the air. Basketball-wise, rebounding is all about body positioning, too. Some of the deep balls we throw him, that’s all it is — going up and getting the rebound at its highest point.”
And it isn’t often a player in his first year of playing high school football gets named to one of the all-state teams, but that’s what happened for Diveney.
“He had a great season, especially since it was his first year of playing high school football,” Kline said. “That’s not a frequent occurrence. I wish we could have gotten him the ball a little more towards the end.”
As Kline prepared to start the 2012 football season, he still had a decision to make on who his starting quarterback would be.
It came down to Dalton Sweeney or Diveney.
Kline picked Sweeney and put Diveney at receiver.
Turns out, that was the right decision.
“Early on in the season, one time I asked him what he likes playing better, and he said he liked playing receiver better,” Kline said. “When Sweeney went down at quarterback with mono, I toyed with putting him in at quarterback.
“I thought about him throwing passes to anybody else on the team, or anybody else on the team throwing to him, and I think I’d prefer to have anybody else on the team throwing passes to him,” Kline added. “I’m very proud of him. He’s very deserving. Hopefully next year, he can make it on first or second team.”