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Riley: real and on the record

Long considered one of top athletes in the area, St. Francis' Dietrich Riley gets first Male Athlete of the Year honor.

August 19, 2010

On a warm August afternoon, the St. Francis High campus is confined by locks and marked by silence. School is out, athletics are at a standstill and the only pulse is a few scattered workers seemingly keeping the La Cañada Flintridge private school in tip-top shape.

It is far removed from the Friday nights of the last four seasons, in which Dietrich Riley thrilled those gathered at Friedman Field.

Having been unanimously voted the James H. Jenkins Male Athlete of the Year, Riley arrives at St. Francis just a day prior to moving into his dorm at UCLA and just three days ahead of the beginning of his summer practice days as a Bruin.

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"It's a chance for a new beginning now," says Riley, who dazzled Golden Knights fans with more than 1,300 total yards, 15 total touchdowns and more than 60 tackles during his senior season. "Now I get to show off what I've been preparing for all my life."

Despite the warm weather, with a camera clicking away, Dietrich insists on putting his Golden Knights letterman jacket on, as he pulls it on over a UCLA T-shirt, sure to pay homage to his past and his present all at once.

His future is on the doorstep, the week ahead will bring him newspaper clippings about standout performances in scrimmages.

But before that, he stands in front of a quiet St. Francis High that he called home for the past four seasons, the last of which saw him lead the Golden Knights to a 9-3 record and the second round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs.

He was a four-year varsity standout, an All-Area and All-Mission League selection as a freshman.

He received his first scholarship offer, coming from Pete Carroll and USC, shortly after his sophomore season.

Having showcased his overall athleticism with seasons on the basketball and track and field teams and even dabbling in baseball for a time, his true talents and versatility played out on the football field.

Whether it was as a safety, where he will play at UCLA, as a linebacker, as a running back or a receiver or even lining up at quarterback, Riley was a difference-maker, a game-changer, an impact player and then some.

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