Costa Mesa High senior Franco Ramirez is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.

Costa Mesa High senior Franco Ramirez is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week. (Scott Smeltzer | Daily Pilot / January 17, 2013)

In the off-season, Ramirez had someone to talk to, his brother, Omar, about went wrong last season.

Ramirez and Omar always seem to be together, in their home, or on the field. Soccer unites them.

"We're always talking about what we can do better," Ramirez said.

The two brothers are roommates and teammates. They also play the same positions, striker and midfield.

Omar is more of a goofball at practice. As the oldest, Ramirez has a little more sense of urgency.

This season is his final one with the Mustangs' varsity program. He is one of two captains, an honor bestowed on players who can lead a team.

One way to motivate a team is by being vocal, something Ramirez has never set out to do. It just happened last week, him giving a speech to teammates before the team's first league contest.

The Mustangs hadn't played much up to this point. Ramirez didn't know what he was going to say to the team. The words just came out.

The match that day was so important to Ramirez that he needed to express himself.

"I don't think they knew what Estancia really was," said Ramirez, referring to the Mustangs' opponent in the Battle for the Bell rivalry series. "Estancia always sees us as easy, 'All right. We'll just play these guys and we'll win, and we'll win next time.' I felt like I needed to tell my players what this meant to us, [to] the youngest guys [on the team] and the first-timers on varsity. It was pretty motivating. I motivated myself."

It is one thing to speak up and another to back up those words. Ramirez delivered the message for the Mustangs and then won them over with his play right away.

In the second minute, Ramirez found the back of the net. The goal was enough for the Mustangs to upset the Eagles, 1-0, and give them just their second win against their rivals in seven seasons.

"When we realized we could beat our rival, we said, 'This is our year!'" Ramirez said.

It just might be the Mustangs' season. Two days after beating Estancia, Ramirez recorded another goal, helping the Mustangs tie Godinez, 2-2, in a league match.

On Wednesday, Ramirez led Costa Mesa to a tie against defending league champion Saddleback. He didn't record a goal, and neither did the Roadrunners, ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 poll, but it was still a good result for the Mustangs.

"In the 10-11 years of coaching at the youth level, I've only met a handful of kids that are as disciplined, as professional, as hard working as he is," Hernandez said of Ramirez, who plans to attend San Francisco State University and study kinesiology. "To me, he's one of the most impressive young men I have ever met."


Franco Ramirez

Born: April 20, 1995

Hometown: Costa Mesa