By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
Denzel Talifero is getting a lot more than he bargained for as a member of the Duarte High School football team.
And so long as the wins keep piling up, nobody’s complaining.
Talifero, who originally thought he’d be playing only linebacker for the Falcons after transferring from Muir in February, also has been the starting quarterback.
The added role was something that came about just weeks prior to the season and it has paid off to the tune of 15 touchdowns combined between rushing and passing. A number that certainly has helped the Falcons to a 3-2 record with aspirations of a Montview League championship.
“I had never played quarterback before in my entire life,” Talifero said. “It’s one of those things where everybody wants to play quarterback. Like, when you’re a little kid, you always want to be the cool quarterback.
“So I was like, `If they need me to play quarterback, I’ll try it.’ ”
The move has paid dividends for the Falcons, who are averaging 32 points per game. It’s just that if you see Talifero’s 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame, it becomes obvious he’s built to be a linebacker.
Talifero was just that the past two seasons at Muir. And he was quite good for the Mustangs while helping them reach last season’s semifinals of the Southeast Division playoffs.
Talifero would have been the top defensive returner for Muir, but decided to transfer to Duarte after all the coaching upheaval at Muir created an environment he wanted no part of.
At the time, it didn’t look like Talifero was making a smart move. Duarte had fallen on hard times and the memory of winless seasons in 2009 and ’10 was fresh in the minds of many. But Talifero made a go of it and has become a team leader while helping to change the culture around the program not so much as it pertains to enthusiasm, but rather wins.
“Over here, it’s a little bit different because the coaches are here every day and the players actually want to be here every day,” Talifero said. “It wasn’t my team that I was trying to get away from (at Muir). It was just the problems with the administration and all the different things that were going on the last two years that I was there.
“It takes a lot here because you have to change the mindset. A lot of the seniors here have been on varsity the last two or three years. So they were here for the 0-10 season and all that losing.”
The Muir connection at Duarte doesn’t stop with Talifero. Head coach Jason Martin played for the Mustangs during his prep career and assistant coach Antoine Sims was a longtime assistant at Muir before joining Martin’s staff.
If area fans weren’t buying into Duarte earlier this season, they are now after the Falcons ended Azusa’s 27-game league win streak last Thursday with a resounding 40-14 win. With Gladstone sitting pretty at 5-0, Duarte still is not considered the favorite to win the league despite the victory over Azusa. But that’s just more motivation for the Falcons to keep showing everybody how serious they should be taken, according to Talifero.
“That was a big win, a statement win, but we’re not finished,” Talifero said. “There’s still people that are skeptical. To us, every game from now on is a statement game.”
Talifero’s numbers so far in league have put him right in the thick of the Montview MVP race with Gladstone quarterback Kevin Amezquita. Talifero has proven to be quite the dangerous quarterback, but there’s still no doubt he’s a linebacker first and one of the best around. And when asked which position he prefers, the answer came with no hesitation.
“Linebacker, definitely,” he said. “It’s just always been me. I’ve always wanted to be the one delivering the hit. I like having control of the defense. I like being the one to make the big hit or big play to help my team.”
So far, so good.
La Puente not ready to give up Montview crown just yet
There may be three Montview League teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest CIF-Southern Section Division 4A volleyball poll, but teams will have to go through four-time defending league champion La Puente. Azusa High School came into the match 5-0 in league after a costly win against Gladstone last week in which its two captains were injured. Without outside hitters Kristen Hipolito, who will be out for the season with a broken foot, and Carmina Ortiz, who sprained her ankle and will miss another two weeks, the Aztecs couldn’t handle the Warriors. La Puente (8-3, 5-1) knocked off Azusa 25-7, 25-13, 25-17 to forge a 3-way tie with Gladstone for first place.
Amat no match for La Salle
DEL REY LEAGUE
La Salle 3, Bishop Amat 0
La Salle took care of Bishop Amat 25-17, 25-22, 25-9. With the loss, Bishop Amat dropped to 8-4 overall and 0-2 in league.
Los Altos 3, Bonita 0
Los Altos easily handled Bonita (2-7, 2-1) 25-11, 25-18, 25-20 and improved to 10-2-1 overall and 5-0 in league. Leading the Conquerors was Fabi Rosas with 11 kills and one ace. Morelia Castro added five kills, four blocks and two aces while Jeannette Mojica contributed five kills, three aces and one block. Alyss Chacon added 18 assist and four aces for Los Altos.
Diamond Bar 3, Walnut 2
Tia Hernandez had 11 kills and 15 digs to help Diamond Bar win the final two games of a dramatic match. Tatum Lockett added 10 kills and Ashley McWilliams nine kills and five blocks for the Brahmas, who won 25-14, 23-25, 17-25, 25-18 and 17-15. Morgan Dempsey chipped in with 17 digs for Diamond Bar (7-4, 3-1), which hosts Rowland on Thursday.
Gladstone 3, Workman 0
Gladstone remained one game behind league-leading Azusa at 5-1 as the Gladiators swept the Lobos 25-8, 25-11, 25-15. Gladstone improved to 14-3 overall while Workman dropped to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in league. Leading the way for Gladstone was senior setter Celeste Albarran with 18 assists, 12 digs, five kills and three aces.Senior outside hitter Melissa Jacob recorded 10 kills, six aces and six digs and senior right side hitter Selina Munoz added nine kills, four digs and two aces.Senior Libero Andrea Mendez contributed 14 digs and five aces.
South Hills 3, Charter Oak 0
Charter Oak could not get anything going as the Chargers were swept by South Hills 25-19, 25-20, 25-15. South Hills improved to 10-4 overall and 1-1 in league while Charter Oak fell to 4-8 and 0-2. Senior setter Ally Donnelly led the Huskies with 18 assists, three kills and two aces. Senior outside hitter Haley Gonzales had seven kills and two digs while middle blocker Sonam Patel added eight kills. Senior libero Reina Ono contributed nine digs and two assists.
Ayala 3, Chino Hills 2
Samantha Bozoian had 13 kills to lead Ayala past Chino Hills 19-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-19 and 15-10. Danielle Giltner and Shannon Bell combined for 20 kills and Erin Clark had 35 assists and six kills for the Bulldogs (8-6, 1-1), who play at Covina Charter Oak on Thursday. Meghan Buzzerio had 26 kills and 11 digs and Shelley Anderson added 12 kills and 37 assists for Chino Hills (13-6, 1-1), which hosts Claremont on Thursday.
Steve Ramirez, Fred Robledo, Aram Tolegian, Reginald Miller and Clay Fowler make their bold predictions on league title races
INTRODUCTION: CIF Polls, what happened to West Covina?
12:30 mark: Almont League predictions
20:35 mark: Rio Hondo League predictions
31:15 mark: Del Rio League
45:45 mark: Sierra League predictions
1:04.30: Mission Valley League predictions
Back in top ten: Los Altos jumped eight spots to No. 9 after Friday’s 17-14 thriller over West Covina.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE’S SUPER 35 RANKINGS
1. Bishop Amat (5-0-1) — Koa Haynes, Dionza Blue, Darren Andrews, Sal Velasquez and Joseph Cook have been better-than-expected to the this point — but now it’s time for Big Boy football in the Serra.
2. Chino Hills (4-1-1) — Only blemishes are a tie to Bishop Amat and loss to Tesoro with a visit to defending Sierra League champ Charter Oak next. They arguably have the best offense in the Valley, and want to show it on Friday.
3. Charter Oak (4-1) — After their poor showing against Bishop Amat, the Chargers rebounded with back-to-back blowout victories and now face their second-toughest game of the season vs. Chino Hills. Could be tough, the advantage Charter Oak had last year with Travis Santiago is now Chino Hills’ advantage with Matt Simko.
4. South Hills (4-1) — Surprising is not a good enough word to describe how the Huskies have won more games than a year ago when a year ago they had more impact players. That’s what happens when you play defense and they have a chance to keep it going on Friday against Claremont.
5. Ayala (4-1) – The Bulldogs drop a call spots after losing their first game of the season, but keep in mind they didn’t have Jordan Robinson in the loss to Kaiser.
6. Damien (2-2) — Both wins have been great and both losses ugly but it has a chance to reinvent itself on Friday at Ayala in the Sierra League opener. The Spartans don’t face Chino Hills or Charter Oak until the final two weeks of the season, so this is their chance to get off to a good start.
7. San Dimas (5-1) — The Saints should continue to roll in the Valle Vista and when you consider its only loss was to Monrovia, it’s been a great season so far.
8. Bonita (3-3) -- This is the “what have you done lately ranking” because the Bearcats are as hot as anyone and probably the favorites to win the Hacienda after back-to-back blowout wins with Reggie Turner leading the way.
9. Los Altos (4-2) — You want to know how you jump eight spots in the rankings? You beat West Covina, the back-to-back Southeast champs and give them their first loss in the Hacienda — Ever.
10. Gladstone (5-0) – Just win baby! They’ve trailed in four of five games but rallied in all of them to stay unbeaten.
The Rest: 11. *West Covina (2-4), 12. Diamond Ranch (3-2), 13. Glendora (2-3), 14. Rowland (4-2), 15. Northview (4-2), 16. Claremont (2-3), 17. El Monte (3-2), *18. Covina (4-2), 19. Arroyo (3-2), 20. Diamond Bar (2-4), 21. La Puente (3-2), 22. Sierra Vista (3-2), 23. Rosemead (2-3), 24. Mountain View (3-2); 25. Duarte (3-2), 26. Azusa (2-3), 27. South El Monte (2-3), 28. Bassett (2-3), 29. Walnut (1-4), 30. Wilson (1-5); 31. Nogales (1-4), 32. Baldwin Park (0-2), 33. Pomona (1-4), 34. Workman (1-4), 35. Ganesha (0-5).
*Covina forfeit win; West Covina forfeit loss
Check out our Maxpreps Made Easy Widget for Tribune Football Fans. If coaches are posting rosters, updating stats and standings, this is the most useful SGV widget there is. Check it out, makes following your teams and area leaders simple.
Below: El Monte’s Brandon Martinez is the third leading passer in the CIF-Southern Section with 1,879 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, averaging 375 yards a game. He had his best game on Friday, throwing for 573 yards and five touchdowns in a 46-41 win over Bell Gardens. El Toro’s Conner Manning leads the section with 2,572 yards and 27 TDs.
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
Perhaps El Monte coach Joel Sanchez put it best on Monday when he said the Valley is going to start learning the truth about Mission Valley League teams beginning this week, because right now there are a lot of confused people.
It starts with one quick glance of the standings entering league play.
Gabrielino is 5-0. Mountain View is 3-2. Are these teams for real? They play each other on Friday, so the area will begin to find out.
Also on Friday is arguably the marquee game of the season when El Monte (3-2) hosts Arroyo. The game is homecoming for the Lions and if previous crowds this season are any indicator fans had better arrive early.
In theory, this is supposed to be the night when El Monte knocks Arroyo from its perch atop the league. The Knights (3-2) have won the past three league championships and beat El Monte 35-20 in Week 10 last season to win the league championship.
“It’s exciting to know that everybody has a shot as of now,” Sanchez said.
“You see how things are now and everybody should be thinking they’re going to make the playoffs at worst and are going to have a league title chance. You shouldn’t be in the game if you’re not thinking that.”
While the Arroyo-El Monte game is huge, and the truth game between Gabrielino and Mountain View is big, fans shouldn’t forget about Rosemead hosting South El Monte.
The Eagles kept the Panthers at home for the postseason with a 33-31 win in Week 10 last seas on and Rosemead will be smarting for revenge. The loser of this game has a tall order left in league with games still to come against Arroyo and El Monte.
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
The Sierra League ended with a boom last season.
Charter Oak High School’s football team went on the road and put a 38-7 whipping on three-time defending champion Chino Hills in Week 10 to win the league title in
This year, the league figures to begin with yet another boom when the Huskies visit the Chargers in Friday’sleague opener for both teams.
Chino Hills enters the game at 3-1-1 after playing a challenging nonleague schedule that featured a rout of West Covina, a tie with Bishop Amat and a loss to highly rated Tesoro.
Charter Oak is 4-1, with the setback coming to Amat. The Chargers got standout linebacker Andrew Hauser eligible two weeks ago and produced two blowout wins over Glendora and Los Osos.
“The challenge for us is for 10 weeks, not just for a couple of marquee games here and there,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “Preseason is over. We break our season up into three parts and now we’re in the second part. How we do in the second part determines how we get seeded or where we get sent out to in the third part. Right now, it’s Week 1 of the second season.”
The league doesn’t figure to be an open and shut case for the winner of Friday’s showdown. Ayala, Damien and South Hills still lay ahead for both teams and all three teams have given indications in nonleague play that they’re worthy title contenders as well.
Chino Hills and Charter Oak do battle to become the early favorite to win the league on Friday, across town at Ayala the Bulldogs host Damien in a game that could spell doom for the loser.
“I think that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?” Damien coach Greg Gano said when asked if Friday was a must-win for his Spartans. “I think they’re all big.
“Just because you beat Ayala doesn’t mean it’s a shoe-in. You’ve got to beat the other three or four teams, too. You’d be a fool if you don’t think this is a huge game.”
Damien enters the game off a 42-7 loss against Los Alamitos, but Ayala comes in off of a loss. The Bulldogs saw their chance for undefeated nonleague season come to a halt in a 14-7 loss to Kaiser. Ayala was without top performer Jordan Robinson.
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
This is a big week in area volleyball, with some key matches as league play kicks into high gear.
La Salle (19-2), ranked No. 6 in Division I-A, begins Del Rey League play today when it hosts Bishop Amat (6-4) at 6 p.m.
La Salle, which reached last season’s 2AA finals, where it lost to St. Lucy’s, is led by Haley DeSales, who has 161 kills, and Katrina Palffy, who has 143.
Bishop Amat, which opened league with a four-game loss to Bishop Montgomery last week, is led by Mariah Jackson’s 52 kills.
St. Lucy’s (8-5), ranked No. 2 in I-A after beating La Salle two weeks ago, faces two of the better teams in the East Valley when it faces Claremont and South Hills today and Thursday, respectively. Both matches have 5:30 p.m. starts.
The Regents, who face arch rival Chino Hills on Oct. 9, are led by Veronica LaPierre, who has 100 kills. St. Lucy’s has won back-to-back CIF-SS division titles.
Azusa, which is 6-2 and 5-0, has another battle for first place tonight when it travels to La Puente for a Montview League match today at 5:30 p.m.
The Aztecs beat Gladstone in four games last week.
The Gladiators, who are 4-1, rebounded by winning five of six matches in the Carpinteria Tournament on Saturday.
Aram and I will go head-to-head in Tribskin Pick’em throughout the season for our annual dinner bet.
Last Week: Robledo (11-8); Tolegian (13-6).
Season: Robledo (86-43); Tolegian (84-45).
Last Week:: Since taking a six-game lead a few weeks back, Aram has chipped away and cut my lead to two. We both missed by not taking Los Altos, Duarte, Diamond Bar, Temple City and Workman, but I also missed not taking Charter Oak, El Monte or Los Alamitos. Aram missed another by not taking Kaiser.
This week:: It has been extremely tough picking games this year and this week’s lineup is another example. There are maybe five or six I feel good about, the rest are up for grabs. Do you really know about Charter Oak-Chino HIlls? Damien-Ayala? La Puente-Sierra Vista? Glendora-Alta Loma? South El Monte-Rosemead? Gabrielino-Mountain View? Los Altos-Rowland? Diamond Bar-Diamond Ranch? The way upsets and surprises are happening each week, it’s an “Any Given Friday” type of season.
This weeks games and predictions
Covina vs. Baldwin Park at CDF, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Covina); Tolegian (Covina)
Chino Hills at Charter Oak, 7 p.m. — Robledo (CHills); Tolegian (CO)
Arroyo at El Monte, 7 p.m. — Robledo (El Monte); Tolegian (EM)
Damien at Ayala, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Damien); Tolegian (Damien)
South El Monte at Rosemead, 7 p.m. — Robledo (South); Tolegian (Rosemead)
La Puente at Sierra Vista, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Sierra Vista); Tolegian (SV)
Glendora vs. Alta Loma at Citrus College, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Glendora); Tolegian (Glendora)
West Covina at Walnut , 7 p.m. — Robledo (WCovina); Tolegian (WC)
Los Altos at Rowland, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Los Altos); Tolegian (LA)
South Hills vs. Claremont at CDF, 7 p.m. — Robledo (SHills); Tolegian (Huskies)
San Dimas at Nogales, 7 p.m. — Robledo (SDimas); Tolegian (SD)
Gabrielino at Mountain View, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Gabrielino); Tolegian (MV)
Duarte vs. Workman at La Puente, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Duarte); Tolegian (Duarte)
Wilson at Pomona, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Wilson); Tolegian (Pomona)
Azusa at Ganesha, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Azusa); Tolegian (Azusa)
Diamond Bar vs. Diamond Ranch at Ganesha, 7 p.m. Robledo (DRanch); Tolegian (DR)