High School Football
Dietrich Riley is St. Francis High’s best player, and has more than a dozen Division I college football programs, including USC, Florida and Alabama, hoping to land the gifted running back, who also plays in the secondary.
When the Golden Knights took on St. Paul last Friday night at Friedman Field, they were without Riley, who has a slight strained hamstring, and nine rushing and five receiving touchdowns.
In the end, St. Francis didn’t need his services, jumping to a two-touchdown lead after one quarter, and cruising to an impressive 34-7 Mission League win.
Could Riley have played? “I’m fine,’’ he said, “but they [the coaching staff]want to play it safe. I’ll be back at full speed next week.’’
The Golden Knights (7-1 and 1-0 in league) came out on their second possession and took a 7-0 lead when quarterback Justin Posthuma drove the club 79 yards, which was climaxed when fullback Michael Melnick scored on a three-yard run with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
During the seven-play march, Posthuma’s 32-yard pass to wide receiver Richie Maloof was significant, placing the ball at the St. Paul nine.
“We had minus 20 yards on our first drive, but then we settled down and moved the ball,’’ said Posthuma, who completed 11 of 21 passes for 146 yards. “We definitely haven’t peaked.’’
St. Francis is lightning quick, even without the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Riley, who has rushed for 518 yards and caught 21 passes for 381 yards.
After getting the ball back when St. Paul (3-5 and 0-1 in league) punted, it took one play covering 79 yards by wide receiver/running back Austin Nieves (159 yards and seven carries) to put the Golden Knights in front, 14-0, with no time left in the opening quarter.
The play was simple, with Nieves running right, and appearing to gain about 10 yards, but then darted left and into the open field, all the while leaving numerous St. Paul players in his wake.
“It was a team effort,’’ said Nieves. “Everybody did what they were supposed to do. Everybody played well.”
With just over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Golden Knights pressed their lead to three touchdowns when Posthuma capped an 80-yard, six-play drive with a one-yard pass to tight end Michael Singelyn.
The next time St. Francis had the ball, Ian Sternau kicked a 29-yard field goal to make it 24-0.
Posthuma made it 34-0 when he drove the Golden Knights 63 yards, and unloaded a 12-yard rocket to Luke Anderson late in the third quarter.
When Sternau booted a 35-yard field goal with 7:27 showing in the third quarter, the Golden Knights charged ahead 27-0.
St. Paul was truly short-handed, losing five starters just before kickoff, and it showed on both sides of the ball.
The Swordsmen scored their only touchdown with 6:23 left in the contest when fullback Drake Griffin creased the end zone from two yards out.