He was introduced to soccer by uncles Brett and Devin Reveles as an
infant, and has been in love with the sport since. He has become one of
the best players in the area -- and arguably in CIF Southern Section
Division IV -- this season.
He has scored eight goals in just seven matches entering Tuesday's
nonleague home match against La Salle and is on pace to break Ryan Shaw's
school record for most goals in a season (30).
Paladini, a three-year varsity member who transferred from Granada
Hills Hillcrest Christian after his freshman year, is the leader of a
6-0-1 Golden Knight squad that is trampling opponents and is unbeaten in
its past 18 matches (17-0-1).
St. Francis' team chemistry and the coaching of mentor Glen Appels are
the main reasons for its recent success.
The Golden Knights work in cohesion like a beautiful orchestra
performing in front of a hall of spectators.
The field is their stage, Appels is the conductor and the players are
the musicians, playing to a rhythm that is often imitated but never
And Paladini -- like past St. Francis greats Pete Vagenas, Eric
Johnson, Andy Van Orden, Mike Brewer and Shaw -- is the one that occupies
He gracefully maneuvers around defenders, smiles when opponents try
unsuccessfully to tackle him and his constant movement off the ball makes
him difficult to mark.
"Danny is the best one-on-one player we've had," Appels said. "He can
really go at people and turn them inside out with his dribble."
And when he scores, Paladini doesn't celebrate excessively, doesn't
let out a loud holler. He doesn't even say a word.
Lou Holtz once suggested a football player scoring a touchdown should
act like he's done it before.
That's just how Paladini reacts.
When he scores, it's like an end of a scene. He simply raises one fist
in the air, and runs back to his position as he is congratulated and
prepares to do it again.
"I'm not being cocky, but it's nothing new," said Paladini, a
News-Press All-Area first-team selection last season, who earned
first-team All-Mission League and All-CIF honors as well.
St. Francis, ranked No. 10 in the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of