After a shattering knee injury last year, the senior returned this season to lead the Wildcats to an 11-1 record and a spot in the state semifinals.
In the doctor’s office, with his parents flanking him, Mount Si High School receiver Trent Riley heard the worst-case scenario from the doctor who had just reviewed an X-ray of Riley’s knee: He may never play sports again.
Riley couldn’t hold back the tears. Neither could his parents.
“I was just thinking, everything I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid is about to be taken away,” Riley said. “I cried for pretty much a week straight.”
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At this time last year, Riley was still on crutches, unable to walk unassisted for four months. Mount Si’s football season had already ended, but Riley, a basketball player, could only watch.
He had always shuffled seamlessly from sport to sport. Football to high school basketball to AAU ball. Suddenly, that was all gone. Worse, he didn’t know if they were gone for good.
“A lot of thoughts,” Riley said. “I just always thought, ‘Will I be back?’ “
Yet here he is a year later, leading Mount Si’s 11-1 football team into a Class 3A semifinal game against Bellevue at 7 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
Already, Riley has shattered the school record for touchdowns in a season with 25. He was also named KingCo 3A/2A Offensive Player of the Year.
“From the original news we got saying, ‘We hope you can walk when you’re 30,’ to him having a phenomenal year and getting recruited has been remarkable,” Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune said.
Riley started feeling pain in his knee while playing basketball the summer before his junior year, but brushed it off. Newport quarterback Isaac Dotson, Riley’s friend and one-time basketball teammate, calls Riley “one of the fiercest competitors I know.”
Riley blocked out the pain for two months. Then one day he couldn’t anymore. Kinnune remembers an early football practice where Riley backpedaled, fell and rolled in excruciating pain.
“He’s a tough kid, so I knew then and there that something was wrong,” Kinnune said.
Riley went in for X-rays. He learned that he had a fracture in the lower femur in his knee and part of the bone had broken off.
Riley’s two older brothers played college sports, and both his parents were athletes. His dad, Eric, is Mount Si’s offensive coordinator and the first coach Kinnune hired 21 years ago.
“Pretty much everything we do as a family is about sports,” Riley said.
He went into a funk. His grades slipped. He experienced depression.
“I was at a point where I didn’t know what to do with myself,” he said.
Yet things started to change for Riley after surgery fused the bones back together. He had screws in his knee for months and had to go through a long stint on crutches, then rehab.
“He deserves everything that comes to him,” Kinnune said.
Riley has scored six touchdowns in Mount Si’s three playoff games. He’s returned a punt and an interception for touchdowns this year. And he’ll have options to continue playing at some level in college.
First, the Wildcats must contend with undefeated Bellevue, the team that handed them their only loss.
That’s OK with Riley. It’s an opportunity to play, he says, and that’s all he can ask for.