Among Ryan DiVergilis’ most basic skills as a football player is his ability to tackle.
Among his most special skills is his ability to snap for kicks.
And then there’s his neatest trick of all, when he’s able to combine the two, starting the play with a snap to the punter and ending it with a tackle of the returner.
“That’s pretty fun,” DiVergilis said.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound DiVergilis is a versatile, valuable member of the Archbishop Wood football team that has advanced to the state semifinals in the PIAA Class 5A tournament.
The Vikings, who have won five state titles since 2011, will play District 7 champion Gateway on Friday afternoon at Altoona’s Mansion Park for the right to advance to the championship game Dec. 6 at Hershey.
“I never had a doubt we could make it this far,” DiVergilis said. “I always knew we had the talent. We faced some adversity, but we overcame it because of how close of a bond we have as a team.”
Archbishop Wood (9-3) was 3-2 after a 20-6 loss to Roman Catholic on Sept. 28. But the Vikings have won six of seven, with the lone loss to defending Class 6A champion St. Joseph’s Prep, with five victories in a row.
DiVergilis has led the way, according to Wood coach Kyle Adkins. DiVergilis is the team’s top tackler with 62 and top pass defender with four interceptions and three pass break-ups.
On offense, DiVergilis has run for 215 yards and six touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 136 yards and another score.
“Offensively, he plays everything from running back to fullback to wing to slot receiver,” Adkins said. “He can do it all. He can run the ball. He catches passes. He blocks.”
On defense, DiVergilis plays a hybrid position, part strong safety and part outside linebacker.
“He’s certainly the leader of our defense,” Adkins said. “He’s always in the right position. He’s a very good tackler, great instincts and nose for the ball. He does everything well.”
DiVergilis is a team captain and three-year varsity player. He saw some action on special teams as a sophomore, when Archbishop Wood won its last state title, beating Gateway in the final.
DiVergilis hopes to continue his football career in college, perhaps at an area NCAA Division III program such as Ursinus or Widener. He plans to coach the sport in the future.
“He’s just a joy to coach,” Adkins said.
DiVergilis, who lives in the Somerton section of Philadelphia, played youth football for the Assumption CYO program. That’s where he developed into a long snapper as a sidelight to his standout play as a running back on offense and linebacker on defense,
“It was weird,” DiVergilis said. “In Assumption, I was kind of messing around with it, messing with the other long snappers. I kind of grew into my own with it. I actually think I’m not too bad at it.”
DiVergilis snaps for all the Vikings’ kicks. He initiates every punt, extra point and field-goal attempt.
“I like doing whatever I can to make the team better and doing whatever I can to help the team win,” DiVergilis said.
Running, receiving, blocking, that’s fun for DiVergilis on offense. But lots of guys do that.
Tackling, knocking down passes and lifting interceptions, that’s a kick on defense. But lots of guys do that, too.
But not many players can long-snap with precision and then race downfield and make the tackle. DiVergilis might be something of a jack-of-all-trades for the Vikings. But that’s his specialty.
“That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” DiVergilis said.