Adds Bonds: “He’s always had that mentality, he loves contact. He’s almost like a safety with the ball in his hand.”
Riley, who began his varsity days at St. Francis as a receiver, also had 15 catches for 171 yards and three scores.
“His hands coming out of the backfield are such a threat,” Bonds says.
Perhaps the biggest differences in Riley’s play this season from the last, however, was his ability to find the holes and the cutback lanes and his durability when needed most.
“For us, he’s a guy that will never leave the field. He’s just as valuable on both sides of the ball,” Bonds says. “There’s no question that Dietrich is our go-to player when we need it most.”
Perhaps the best example of that was in St. Francis’ regular season finale against Chaminade. The Golden Knights were upset in overtime, but in the see-saw affair, it was Riley who came up clutch when needed most. He had 302 yards rushing in 35 carries, three catches for 37 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was hungry for the ball this year,” Riley says.
The hunger never waned, even with a nagging back injury that sidelined him against El Rancho and limited him in games with Rio Mesa and Bishop Amat.
“I managed to fight through it and have a successful year,” he says.
With all the pomp and circumstance that has surrounded Riley in his days at St. Francis, with accolades pouring in and college opportunities beckoning, his talent continues to improve because his work ethic drives him.
“He’s a specimen, he was blessed,” Younker says. “But it’s his heart, he’s willing to do anything, that’s why he’s so versatile.”
Riley maintains that he loves an energetic practice, one in which everyone is working hard and he’s leading by example. It’s not just the phenom saying the right things, either.
“He works harder than anybody and that’s great to have as a coach when one of your best players is your hardest worker,” Bonds says.
With one season left at St. Francis, Riley maintains he’ll continue to make himself better along with the Golden Knights, that’s his biggest goal.
“It’s gonna be my senior year,” he says. “Everyone’s gonna work hard.”