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2008 All-Area Football ?Player of the Year:

Running with Purpose

As a running back, outside linebacker or kick returner, the ultra-talented Dietrich Riley of St. Francis High proved his worth.

January 15, 2009|By Grant Gordon

Dietrich Riley is a busy young man these days.

He just recently returned from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in Texas, where he competed in a combine before the high school football all-star showcase.

Having already received scholarship offers from USC and UCLA during the summer, the St. Francis High junior is receiving notice from the top schools across the nation.


Meanwhile, he’s juggling it all while starting for the Golden Knights basketball team.

Then, of course, there’s the junior football season he just left behind, one in which he became the first Golden Knights rusher since 2004 to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, as he started at running back, outside linebacker and returned kicks for St. Francis. A dynamic star in the making with talent to spare and energy in reserve, Riley continued on his quest to become a complete player as his versatility shined even brighter in his third varsity season. And, once more, he proved himself to be the best football player around, as the sportswriters and editors of the La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader voted him the 2008 All-Area Football Player of the Year, his second straight honor.

“The kid’s a stellar athlete,” says St. Francis teammate Rian Younker, a senior who started on both sides of the line. “I can’t believe he still has another year. He’s gonna make some people really angry next year.”

While Riley is expected to infuriate opposing defenses and offenses, alike, next season, his 2008 campaign certainly wasn’t one to overlook.

“He strives to become a great all-around football player,” St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds says. “He wants to be the best he can be and he knows it’ll make our team better.”

For the most part, he stuck to playing running back on offense and outside linebacker on defense, despite the fact that he’s been used all over the defensive backfield and at quarterback and receiver in the past.

He averaged more than 36 yards per kick return and nine yards per punt return on special teams. Defensively, he had 50 tackles, four for a loss and four pass breakups.

But it was on offense that he truly shined. And it was at running back that he finally felt comfortable.

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