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Ramirez leads Costa Mesa's breakthrough

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior captain has helped Mustangs to strong start in league play, including 1-0 win over rival Estancia.

January 17, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Scott Smeltzer…)

In his fourth season with the Costa Mesa High boys' soccer team, Franco Ramirez is playing for his third coach. That much turnover can make it hard for an experienced player to connect with someone new in charge.

For Ramirez and his latest coach, Amos Hernandez, that hasn't been the case at all.

The two relate to each other, respect each other and are fond of each other, on and off the field. They know what's necessary to succeed in a sport the Mustangs haven't achieved much in the past 10 seasons.

Without a strong work ethic, both agree the team stands no chance. Ramirez didn't learn how to work hard by playing soccer. Hernandez didn't learn by coaching soccer.

They thank their mothers for setting the right example.

While Ramirez and Hernandez are on the field on a daily basis with their team, their mothers clean houses. Carmen Ramirez and Mercedes Flores clean houses for a living and they're the moms who push their sons to strive.

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"It inspires me because that's [hard work, cleaning houses]," said Ramirez, adding that his mother immigrated to this country from Mexico to give her son a better opportunity.

The vision is the same one Flores had for Hernandez.

The player and coach's family stories are similar. They use what their mothers have instilled in them to fuel Costa Mesa in practice and in matches. It's working so far, as the Mustangs are unbeaten in Orange Coast League play at 1-0-2.

They are competing unlike any other team Ramirez said he has been a part of at the school. The potential to do well, Ramirez said, has been there in his previous three seasons.

The new coach figured out what was missing.

"I just thought that they lacked organization, that they lacked a little bit of leadership, somebody to really bring the program together," said Hernandez, whose coaching background is mostly on the club level, with the Newport Mesa Soccer Club. "One of the things that I wanted to do was, where I played high school, [at Lakewood from 1996-99], the program that I came from, it was an organized program, it had a proper booster club, the parents were involved, and that's what I want to bring to the table here."

Signs of the program heading in the right direction are evident. The Mustangs have a senior to lead in the field of play and someone to lead from the sideline.

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