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Riley still one of the Knights

Despite a slew of scholarship offers, St. Francis standout keeps team-first focus.

September 10, 2009|By Grant Gordon

When Dietrich Riley began his days playing Pop Warner football, he was far removed from the pomp and circumstance that would eventually color his high school days.

“The funny part of it is, I was just another guy out there,” he recalls. “I was never the most athletic. ...I was just another guy out there.”

Just another offensive and defensive lineman, in fact.

But when St. Francis High football Coach Jim Bonds saw the freshman version of the would-be NCAA Division I prospect, he had no doubts that Riley’s skills would take him to new heights.


“Oh yeah, everybody saw it,” says Bonds, who brought Riley up during his freshman season for Mission League play.

Now, almost four years later, Riley stands tall, looking ahead to a senior season with the Golden Knights that he believes will be his greatest yet, while gazing to a future on the gridiron that most believe is brimming with promise.

Realistically, the only position Bonds says he doesn’t believe he could line Riley up at is offensive lineman or defensive tackle.

In a multitude of Southern California publications, the 6-foot-2, 17-year-old Riley is listed as one of, if not the, top safeties in the Southland. And yet, he never even lined up a down in the defensive backfield last year.

He was an outside linebacker on defense and, on offense, quickly becoming entranced by the running back position.

Offensively, he’s lined up as a wideout and in the slot, he’s been a tailback and even a quarterback.

“He could play anywhere,” Bonds says. “He’s played just about everywhere on our offense.”

With just four games played on varsity as a freshman, he was an All-Mission League and All-Area selection.

The last two seasons, he’s been the All-Area Football Player of the Year. And, as a junior, was the prestigious Mission League’s Offensive Player of the Year.

The accolade came on the heels of Riley becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher in program history since 2004. He averaged 6.8 yards a carry en route to 1,121 yards and nine total touchdowns. And, of course, it came with him starting at linebacker, as well.

This season, Riley’s slated to be the Golden Knights’ starting strong safety, the primary option at running back, while moonlighting as a receiver, and on special teams he’ll return punts and kickoffs.

His brief respites will come when the point-after-touchdown, punt and kickoff teams are on the field.

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