'13 Intro: John Curtis LB Duke Riley

John Curtis sophomore inside linebacker Duke Riley (No. 40, second from left in pic) is tied for the team lead in tackles, and the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is sure to draw plenty of attention from college recruiters in the future. When Curtis traveled to Dallas to play Trinity a few years ago, Riley visited the SMU campus and was impressed with what he saw.

John Curtis Christian has a top-flight inside linebacker in senior Seth Jones, but it's Jones' understudy -- sophomore Duke Riley -- who is leading the team in tackles.

Actually, Riley (55 tackles) is tied atop the leader board, along with stud junior defensive tackle Marcel Andry, for the 5-1 Patriots.

"I just work hard and get after it," said Riley (6-1, 195). "I study film, make plays, and try my hardest. It's really good having Seth there beside me at inside linebacker. He helps me get things right and make corrections. We have a three-man rotation on the inside with two seniors -- Seth and Cardell Silas -- and myself."

This week, John Curtis has an all-important district game versus 7-0 St. Charles Catholic. In 2009, the Patriots and Comets met twice, with Curtis taking both games. In the regular-season game, the two teams battled to the wire with the Patriots emerging as victors in a 19-18 nailbiter.

"It's going to be a tough game," said Riley. "It's going to come down to who wants it more. I'd say that the most important thing will be wrapping up when we tackle."

Which college programs are at the top of Riley's list?

"LSU, SMU, Alabama, Tulane, Ole Miss, and Florida," he said. "I've seen SMU's recruiter (Jeff Reinebold) around the school in the past, and I've seen their campus a couple of years ago when we played (Euless) Trinity in Dallas. It's really nice over there."

Riley's statistical season-high came earlier this year versus Newman and blue-chip WR Odell Beckham. In that game, a 35-14 win for the Patriots, Riley had 10 tackles. Two other games - Salmen and Gainesville (Fl.) - stand out as memorable for the sophomore.

"Salmen was a good game for me, even though we lost. When you lose, sometimes you learn more than you do in a win.

"Gainesville was bigger than us and faster than us, but we won (44-16) and I liked the way that Coach J.T. (Curtis) out-thought them."

As a freshman, Riley received significant playing time, racking up 33 tackles. He's added 30 pounds since then.

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