By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
The Montview League has long been the Rodney Dangerfield of the San Gabriel Valley, even though two Montview League teams, Azusa and Duarte, advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals last year, and Duarte had some other deep playoff runs in recent years. “It’s no secret the Montview League doesn’t get a whole lot of respect,” Workman coach Fred DeLelio said. “We don’t play the toughest teams in the Valley, but we’re beating the teams in front of us.” That’s certainly true this season. Workman (2-0), La Puente (2-0), Gladstone (2-0) and Sierra Vista (1-0) are all undefeated, a huge turnaround from a year ago, when the Montview League was 5-23 and four Montview League teams went winless in nonleague games.
“I know I’m a first-year coach, but this is great to see,” La Puente coach Brandon Roher said.
“It shows our kids that the hard work is paying off, and it sets a tone in league that a lot of teams are going to fight it out for the league title.”
Longtime Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez can’t remember the last time a Gladiators team started 3-0. It’ll have that opportunity Friday against undefeated Bosco Tech (2-0) at Citrus College.
“I have been here since the 1980s as a student, and in that time, we have never started 3-0,” Sanchez said.
“We haven’t won a playoff game since 1977, so we’re excited about the opportunities in front of us.”
Sanchez said the knock on the Montview League isn’t entirely fair.
When the Gladiators were at their best and league champions in 2005, they lost in the first round of the Division X playoffs to Santa Maria St. Joseph, a juggernaut from the Los Padres League.
The Gladiators won the league title in 2004 too, going 8-2 before losing 22-0 in the first round of the playoffs to Morro Bay – another Los Padres League team.
The Mid-Valley Division was created last year, combining strength of league with geographical proximity – a huge reason why Azusa and Duarte advanced to second-round games.
“The way the (playoff regions) were set before was real crappy,” Sanchez said.
“The lack of respect was, for winning our league, we were getting Los Padres League teams, and that was a different level entirely. We played Los Padres League teams three years in a row.
“That’s why it was encouraging to watch what happened last year, with Azusa and Duarte winning playoff games, and Azusa knocking off Covina. It was great for all of us to see.”
That confidence booster, combined with the early success of the Montview this season, has everyone in the league feeling better.
One of the big games Friday pits La Puente at Baldwin Park. Both teams are 2-0.
“That’s a test we have been waiting for,” Roher said. “They’re one of the better teams in our division, so it will give us a good indication of where we’re at.”
Workman has looked the most impressive, beating Mountain View 41-7 and Keppel 24-14.
Senior running back Kalin Bradford is delivering as advertised, rushing for a combined 346 yards and four touchdowns.
The Lobos hope to make it 3-0 against winless South El Monte (0-2) on Friday at La Puente High.
“This is my fifth season here and probably the best team we have had (in that span),” DeLelio said.
“But you have to earn 3-0. South El Monte wants a win bad, and its coach (Ray Hernandez) knows us from his coaching days at (La Puente).
“They (the Eagles) have played two great teams: Norwalk and San Dimas. There is no way we’re looking past them or feeling good about what we have accomplished. This is going to be tough and we know it.”