TWO GAMES INTO the new football season, and San Ramon Valley High junior Michael Tagliafferi has three interceptions, a 4.0 grade point average and an oral commitment to North Carolina in lacrosse.
Life is good.
Clearly, Tagliaferri is mastering the art of cross(e)-training.
San Ramon Valley's football team is 2-0 and ranked No. 2 in the East Bay after wins over Archbishop Mitty (16-13) and Antioch (41-14).
Last spring, as a middie on the Wolves lacrosse team, Tagliaferri, the oldest of four athletic siblings, was a walking highlight reel with 53 goals and 41 assists.
In football he's 2-for-2. He has an interception return for a touchdown in each of the Wolves' wins from his strong safety position, including a 45-yarder on Friday and a 34-yarder to stun highly regarded Mitty.
He's proving to be a quick football study, but Tagliaferri prefers to focus on the team's success.
"We're playing great," Tagliaferri said. "We worked really hard and are just playing well as a team. Everybody's helping each other out and doing their responsibility and doing their one-eleventh, and so it's going to be a good season."
Success in two sports can create scheduling challenges.
Consider that soon after the Wolves beat Antioch Friday night, Tagliaferri caught a midnight flight. He was bound for Chapel Hill, N.C., to meet with some of his future teammates.
One of the nation's top young lacrosse players, Tagliaferri received numerous scholarship offers, including from Duke, Penn State, Ohio State. Ivy League teams (which don't give scholarships) Princeton, Cornell, and Virginia also made offers.
Why did he select North Carolina? Tagliafferi said it boiled down to the Tar Heels having a great coach in Joe Breschi, a beautiful school setting, and the character of UNC's players who made him feel welcome during his two visits. North Carolina was 12-6 last year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
As for football, San Ramon Valley coach Mark Kessler was impressed enough with Tagliaferri last year to promote him from the junior varsity squad for the Wolves North Coast Section Division I playoff game against Pittsburg.
"He has great instincts," Kessler said. "It (football) comes very natural to him, definitely. ... I think he's competitive. He'll compete at whatever he's doing, whether it is in the classroom or on the field.
"The other characteristic is just his natural instincts. He's not the fastest guy, but he has deceptive speed."
Of the similarities between football and lacrosse, Kessler spoke of the need to be agile, mobile, versatile and tough.
"You've got to be able to knock some people around (in both sports)," Kessler said.
Tagliaferri said he started playing football in the eighth grade, three years after beginning in lacrosse. He said both sports require good footwork and the ability to properly dole out and absorb punishment.
"Both of them are really physical sports and it's all about speed, you know, speed and athleticism," Tagliaferri said. "I love it. I love them both."
MEAT EATERS UNITE: If you like meat and high school sports, check out this tasty fundraiser.
On Saturday, Oct. 2 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Foothill High School parking lot), the Foothill Athletic Boosters will be selling a variety of USDA inspected meats, such as New York steaks, ribeye and filet mignon, to benefit Falcons athletics. They will also sell shrimp, scallops and chicken.
Proceeds will go toward uniforms, equipment and referee/tournament costs.
Contact Matt Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.