Although the top ranked Wolves suffered a 21-14 defeat against Ponca City on September 19, 2014, Shawnee High School sophomore Jack Diamond was impressive in his first career start.
The Class of 2017 quarterback's nerves about starting didn't keep him from making some great plays on the field and he offered a preview to the state of Oklahoma of who to watch the next few years.
After a scoreless first quarter, Ponca City would be the first to find the end zone, capping a long 12 play drive. The Wolves responded immediately, evening the score with an drive that was highlighted by a 37 yard pass from Diamond to Shade Franklin. The Wildcats answered with another touchdown, but Diamond beautifully orchestrated a possession that included another impressive, 23 yard pass, and a 17 yard TD pass to tie the game with 20 seconds left in the half. Diamond ended the game with a respectable 13 for 22 for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking after the game, Diamond told us that he was both excited and nervous to start in place of 5 star quarterback and East Carolina University commit John Jacobs, who was out because of a lingering hamstring injury. Coaching from the sidelines, Jacobs reassured Diamond that starting was no different than playing at any other time in a game and he needed to keep calm and just play. Playing behind Jacobs has been a good learning experience for the sophomore.
Due to Jacobs’ hamstring injury, which has bothered him most of the season, Diamond has received considerably more playing time that he expected, a “surprising” amount he says. However, Diamond did plenty of preparation for this season and for the moment when his number was called. Over the summer, he attended several college camps, including Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. He also paid visits to Clemson, Duke, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee.
Says Diamond, “Traveling around to all of those college camps was an amazing experience. It really gave me an opportunity to see how I compare to quarterbacks from around the country.” He continues, “It gave me a great idea of what I need to do to prepare to play at that level.”
Much of his preseason training was focused on building up his strength and speed. This adds to an already strong and accurate arm. His ability to run the ball is an area that he wants to improve on, “to be a well-rounded QB” he says.
He also spent time with his quarterback coach, Joe Dickinson, whom he has worked with since early 2011. Together they worked hard on every part of his game, from pocket presence to understanding defenses. Diamond said he likes Coach Dickinson’s style of coaching and emphasis on perfecting the little things.
Before his start, Diamond called Dickinson for a bit of reassurance and advice. "He just said I've got to be calm in the pocket, we talked about their defense and what I should expect." He continues, “He (Coach Dickinson) told me that he believed in me and knew that I could get the job done.”
Diamond is confident about his team's chances of success this season. With the biggest line in the state, they are a strong contender and favorite for a championship. With Jacobs and Diamond under center, there's plenty of talent in the quarterback position, not only for this season, but for the foreseeable future.
This first career start is certainly going to join his first varsity touchdown in his list of major achievements. Diamond may have a few more years to play at the high school level, but as this preview showed he's already one to watch.