Athlete of the Week: Dagan Rienks

Rienks scored a touchdown and posted multiple career highs in Saturday’s win
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:27 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Last week, legendary Paonia High School coach Scott Rienks passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. He won 10 state titles between football and girls basketball, and was inducted to the CHSCA Hall of Fame in March 2020.

Rienks’ legacy lives on through his son Dagan, a tight end on the CMU football team. After a meaningful, powerful performance on Saturday night, Dagan Rienks is our Athlete of the Week.

Just five days after losing his dad, Dagan says it wasn’t even a question if he would play against Adams State.

“I knew he would want me to play, he’d want me to practice, he didn’t want me to take any time away,” Rienks told us after the Mavericks 49-14 win. “It was an easy decision and there was no question of whether I was going to play or not.”

With his family watching from the first row, Dagan put up a career-high 81 receiving yards and scored his third touchdown of the season. That 25-yard catch was the longest of his CMU career. Upon reaching the end zone, his teammates were right there for support, as they had been all week long leading up to the game.

“We came together as a team, surrounded him with anything he needed,” says quarterback Karst Hunter. “He came out here today and played his heart out, he got a touchdown which was very cool to see. What a moment for him and his family.”

Hunter says the team drew up that touchdown play specifically for Rienks.

“When I gave him the ball, I knew he was going to score. It just kinda hit me what was happening, I went up to him and hugged him. There were a lot of emotions for sure.”

Dagan also shared a long hug with his mom after that touchdown, as the Rienks family wore shirts reading “Refuse to Lose.” That slogan became a rallying cry throughout his dad’s battle with cancer.

Scott Rienks taught his son the game of football, and even pushed Dagan to stick with it when he almost quit the sport as a high school freshman.

“He taught me how to throw, how to be coachable, and teachable,” Dagan said after his big game. “He made me the man and the player that I am, and he’s definitely the reason I am where I am today.”

The Mavs host Fort Lewis on Saturday at Stocker Stadium. At 2 p.m. on Sunday, CMU will host a memorial service for Scott Rienks inside the Meyer Ballroom.

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