Jacob Dimond entered Yelm High School with a dream of one day playing football for the Tornados on Friday nights. He didn’t have to wait very long for his goal to be realized as he made his first start as a sophomore.
“I kind of felt like I was thrown into the fire,” said Dimond about his early playing days on the varsity level. “We had a lineman named Tim Piland, who was a senior when I was a freshman, and I really looked up to him. When he graduated, I was the next man up. I really had big shoes to fill.”
Luckily by the time Dimond was a sophomore, he was already 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds. There weren’t too many shoes he couldn’t fit into.
It was also around the time he was making his first varsity start that he first started to hear the chatter.
“Some people said I was only here because I was big. I was only here because I was tall,” said Dimond, who now stands 6-7 and weighs 295 pounds, “but I was putting in the work. I really had a chip on my shoulder because of that.”
Three years later and Dimond is still the biggest player on his team, but he is also one the best offensive lineman in the 3A South Sound Conference and a big reason why Yelm is in the hunt for a conference championship this season.
“Jacob was the biggest kid on the freshmen team. I think he got so large so fast he had a hard time bending and creating the right angles for an offensive lineman,” Yelm head coach Jason Ronquillo said, “but now that he’s stopped getting taller, he’s beginning to fill out and his movement and flexibility are far better than they were last year.”
“Since my sophomore year, I’ve been working a lot on my footwork and just trying to become a better player,” Dimond said. “It’s starting to finally come along now and I’m just really confident in what I do out there.”
What Dimond does out there at his tackle position is spearhead a Tornados offensive line that has been putting up big numbers this season as Yelm attempts to make a return trip to the postseason this year.
“It’s just a great feeling knowing he’s there protecting me,” said Yelm senior quarterback Kyle Robinson, who has been playing with Dimond since third grade. “There’s no one I’d rather run the ball behind.”
Whatever talk Dimond heard three years ago has long since been replace by cheers and praise.
“Most of his improvements you’ll notice are in his technique. He is far more technical this year than he was last year. He’s really worked hard to improve his pass pro technique this off season,” Ronquillo said. “Jacob is a great leader by both his words and his actions. He’s always been willing to sacrifice his own time and pride to make our team better. He’s also a great role model on the field by playing within the confines of the game and he’s a fabulous student in the classroom.”
A second-team all-conference pick last year, Dimond has already received scholarship offers from a number of colleges, including Redlands and Simon Fraser, and lists Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, a pair of schools that have also shown interest, as his dream schools.
“I really don’t think Jacob has a ceiling at this point,” Ronquillo said. “His effort and drive to get better will be the only things that stop him. When college coaches come by and see Jacob, they can tell he’s still growing. So the sky’s the limit.”
Before he figures out where he will be playing next fall, Dimond still has plenty of work to do this season.
After back-to-back losses, including a 17-14 non-conference setback to Tumwater and an equally heartbreaking 30-28 defeat to South Sound Conference foe Central Kitsap, the Tornados thrusted themselves right back into the hunt for a conference crown after knocking off Gig Harbor (16-13), previously undefeated Capital (41-27), and North Thurston (48-0) in consecutive weeks.
The team advanced to the distance playoffs last year where the Tornados lost to Bethel, 32-22. This year Dimond and his teammates have their sights set on securing a trip to the state playoffs, something that hasn’t occurred at Yelm since 1987.
“It’s been a little bit of an up and down season so far, but right now we’re on the up. I feel like we can play with any teams in this league,” Dimond said. “I wouldn’t trade this team for the anything in the world. I love these guys. All I have ever wanted was to be out here playing varsity football at Yelm with all my brothers, and now that’s happened and we’re winning.”