James Riley doesn’t like talking about James Riley.
Any questions about him are deflected onto his Turlock Christian High teammates, though he does it in a polite way.
What is your role on your team?
“I’m just on the team, like anybody else,” he said.
What are some of your goals for this season?
“I just want to win as a team, to be honest,” he said.
But regardless of his team-first attitude, Coach Rusty Lyon knows the importance of Riley.
“We have a great running back in James Riley,” Lyon said.
The senior is expected to lead a squad that aims to forget about 2009’s season-finale disaster, in which the Eagles lost to their biggest rival. In the year’s biggest game, Turlock Christian suffered a crushing 39-10 loss that allowed Denair High — which sits on the same road as TC — to take the final playoff spot in Division V.
Riley and others can’t wait for the rematch on Oct. 29.
“That’s not my main focus, but playing Denair is one of the highlights of the year,” he said. “And I’d like to beat them this year.”
In 2009, Riley had 83 carries for 469 yards and six scores. His season highlight was scoring the winning touchdown against Ripon Christian High in nonconference action.
He says he’s not the fastest runner or even the strongest, like last season’s Nikko Jennings, a powerful running back who bruised opponents. Riley is all about muscling through defenders for a short gain of about 10 to 15 yards. He doesn’t mind doing that several times during one drive.
The Eagles are also breaking in a new quarterback in sophomore Chase Gonzales, who’s inexperienced but has “a rocket arm,” said Coach Lyon. “We have a great offensive line and our success is determined on how well we do on the offensive line. We have good speed guys. We have a lot of team speed. We’d like to use our ‘spread offense’ to utilize the talent we have.”
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