Glory days and Golden Knights

GLENDALE — This is the seventh of eight consecutive editions in which the News-Press looks back at the area's 2009-10 seasons, school by school, before looking ahead at the year to come.

At least within its recent chronicle, the St. Francis High athletic body has been highlighted most often by the exploits of its soccer and football programs.

That was much the same this past season.

Dietrich Riley grabbed headlines not just locally, but far beyond as he was one of the nation's top football recruits before deciding to take his talents to UCLA.

Riley, Justin Posthuma, Chris Cabrera and a host of talented Golden Knights football players reaffirmed St. Francis' placement atop the Mission League and Western Division with a run to the quarterfinals amid a season filled with nailbiting games.

The soccer team, by its lofty standards, struggled, but did so against a fiercely arduous schedule. Still, Coach Glen Appels' bunch was able to pull off some playoff magic, as is often the case.

Led by Tommy Jordan, the basketball team began to surge ahead, while the baseball and tennis teams took a step backward.

In all, it was a year that saw its share of team triumph, individual accolades and riveting contests, which lie ahead:

Sept. 11, 2009 — Dietrich Riley, who would go on to become a three-time All-Area Player of the Year, an Under Armour All-American and the 2010 James H. Jenkins News-Press Male Athlete of the Year, has more than 100 yards receiving, more than 100 yards rushing and three total touchdowns in only a first half's worth of work in the football team's season-opening 40-0 win against Arcadia.

Sept. 18, 2009 — Behind a game-winning 17-yard touchdown run by quarterback Justin Posthuma and a game-clinching interception from Ryan Jenkins, both of them eventual All-Area and All-CIF standouts, the football team holds off Crescenta Valley, 28-21, in the "Battle of Foothill Blvd."

Oct. 7, 2009 — Riley has three touchdowns and 109 yards rushing in 13 carries as the football team routs El Rancho, 41-0, to begin the season at 5-0.

Oct. 20, 2009 — Kyle Palazzolo, an eventual All-Area member, paces the Golden Knights with a fourth-place mark in 16:35, as the Golden Knights defeat Notre Dame, but lose to Harvard-Westlake in a tri-meet. It's a sign of things to come, as the Golden Knights had their sights set on reclaiming the second-place spot from Harvard-Westlake.

Oct. 23, 2009 — With Riley injured, the football team still pulls off a nailbiting comeback as Posthuma hits Travis Talianko on the tail end of a 60-yard drive. Talianko's touchdown grab with seconds left gives the Golden Knights a 27-23 win over Loyola.

Nov. 4, 2009 — Coach Pat Donovan is hardly pleased as his cross-country squad stumbles to a fifth-place finish in the Mission League finals at Crescenta Valley Park. Still, they're able to get fourth overall for the season and move on to the CIF prelims.

"That's a weight off my shoulders," says Donovan of making the postseason, "but still, it's a bittersweet feeling. I was coming in expecting considerably more.

"It absolutely is disappointing, I can't second that enough."

Nov. 13, 2009 — After beginning Mission League play with a win over St. Paul and following it up with a heartbreaking loss to Alemany, second place and an automatic playoff bid are on the line as the football team travels to the historically unfriendly confines of Chaminade.

A huge underdog, Chaminade holds a 25-7 halftime lead.

Once more it is a Posthuma-to-Talianko scoring hookup that leads to a comeback win, as the Golden Knights prevail, 32-25.

"We went into the locker room at halftime and we were pretty quiet," Talianko says. "There probably wasn't anybody in there who didn't think we could do what we would do."