BLOOMINGTON -- Fred Carlton Field is bigger than most lawns. It also is equipped with yard lines, end zones, goalposts, lights, etc.
Still, it has a backyard feel this year for Bloomington High School senior Ryne Dicken.
Dicken is enjoying a banner season as a fullback and linebacker. He's enjoying it even more because his brother, junior Tyler Dicken, is BHS' starting quarterback.
"It really is pretty fun," Ryne Dicken said. "It reminds me of when we would play in the backyard, only it's on a bigger stage now. It's a cool experience to have your brother playing on the team and in an important role."
The Dickens grew up playing football, and other sports, in what Tyler described as "a real big backyard."
He said it was "perfect" for two high-energy boys separated by only a year. They battled each other -- "It was definitely competitive," Ryne said -- but ultimately, made each other better.
Now, they are reaping the benefits on a 5-1 team ranked No. 6 in the Class 6A state poll.
"We were really looking forward to this season," Tyler Dicken said. "I'm definitely proud of Ryne. He's a great example for me as far as how to play and how to lead a team. I think we're both pretty happy with how things are going."
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Ryne Dicken is second on the team in tackles with 46, third in rushing with 255 yards on 45 carries (a 5.7 average) and fourth in receiving with 10 catches for 167 yards. Included are six rushing touchdowns and two long scores on screen passes from his brother.
Tyler Dicken has passed for a Pantagraph-area leading 960 yards and five TDs, directing an offense averaging 35.2 points per game.
Their last name became synonymous with BHS football in the early 1990s. First cousin Billy Dicken was an all-state quarterback for the Raiders and went on to earn first-team all-Big Ten Conference honors at Purdue.
"From what I hear, he was really good. That's something to strive for," said Tyler Dicken, who wears his cousin's BHS number (7). "I really want to get to a level like that."
Billy Dicken, now an assistant football coach at Eastern New Mexico, worked with Tyler in the summer on throwing the ball and, the younger Dicken said, "on being a good teammate and a good leader."
The Dickens also benefited from the experiences of their older brother, Andy, who played quarterback at Normal West and is a senior signal-caller at Millikin University.
Ryne Dicken said Andy used to play in the backyard games and "kind of told us what it was like being a varsity football player." He could not counsel them on being named Dicken at Bloomington.
"A lot more people here know of our family than at West," Ryne Dicken said. "It's not really more pressure, but I kind of feel I have to represent our family."
BHS head coach Rigo Schmelzer was an assistant during the Billy Dicken era, and still considers him "one of the most talented athletes I've ever seen."
That said, Schmelzer called the current Dickens "great football players."
"They're very competitive," he said. "They're not as vocal as Billy was and don't wear their emotions on the outside the way he did at times. However, they are all about the game and about bringing everything they can to it."
Schmelzer said Ryne Dicken's versatility makes him a huge asset, and that Tyler Dicken has shown great ability to "stay in the pocket and deliver the ball."
"He's also shown he's tough enough to run the option," Schmelzer added. "He's as good a QB right now as I've had in 17 years as a head coach."
It all started in the backyard, where the Dickens competed hard but rarely fought.
"I would get in trouble if I fought my younger brother," Ryne said.
Better to team up with him, and make trouble for the opposition.