The transformation didn't happen overnight.
Ozzie Ramos developed into one of the top varsity boys soccer players in the Stanislaus District and Central Valley High School's history thanks to his work ethic and year-round dedication.
"He's the brain of the team," Hawks head coach Omar Leon said. "He sets the tone. He's a very complete player. Skill-wise, he's almost perfect. He's grown physically and mentally. He stays after practice on his own time. Not a lot of people do that. He makes a huge difference on the field. He pushes everyone. It's been a pleasure to coach him."
Ramos, a senior midfielder, will fill a vital role as Central Valley looks to continue its winning tradition and run of dominance.
"He knows it's his last year," Leon said. "He wants to do better. He's hungry."
Central Valley set a program record for wins in a season last year.
The Hawks (24-3-2) captured their fifth straight conference championship and secured their sixth consecutive playoff berth.
The goal of winning section titles remains elusive. Central Valley had to settle for runner-up honors in 2012, 2010 and 2009.
"Our objective is always the same," Leon said. "The only thing we haven't won is the section title. We have to stay focused and committed throughout the season."
Ramos, the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player, collected 22 goals and 14 assists during his junior year.
Ozzie's leadership was sorely missed in Central Valley's 2-0 loss to River Valley in the section finals last year. He opted to compete in a college showcase tournament in New Jersey as a member of the Maryland-based ASA Milan Black Hawks under-16 travel club.
"If I was in his position, I probably would have done the same thing," Leon said. "I wasn't mad. I knew ahead of time. It would have been nice to have him there. He could have made a difference."
A third-year starter, Ramos has already established himself as one of Central Valley's all-time greatest players.
Daniel Ochoa, Gerardo Cazares and Jose Ramirez all experienced individual and team success too.
Ochoa, Cazares and Ramirez won conference MVP awards.
Daniel, Gerardo and Jose led the Hawks to multiple league titles and postseason appearances.
Ramos and the Hawks would accomplish a first in 2013 by winning a section crown.
"It's hard to make comparisons," Leon said. "The other players were different. He's just as good as them. He's setting his own path. If Ozzie stays committed, he'll have an opportunity to play in college and the pros."
A model student-athlete with a 4.0 GPA, Ramos got perfect scores on both sections of the California High School Exit Exam.
"Academically speaking, there are no issues," Leon said. "He's a great student. He's always worked hard. He's looking into Division-I schools. He's exchanged information with coaches. He'll shine wherever he goes. He loves the game. You can tell. It's obvious."