It's during the off-season that successful teams develop through hard work, and at Hollywood Bernstein High, second-year Coach Masaki Matsumoto worked week after week — on and off the field — to build a championship team.
The Dragons came up short, losing to Sun Valley Poly, 38-32, in a City Section Division III semifinal on a fumble in the closing minutes, but an 11-2 record combined with the impact he had on his players left little doubt that he merits recognition as The Times' coach of the year.
It was Matsumoto's idea last summer to have players carry home sealed envelopes containing letters asking mothers and fathers to say something positive while expressing their love for their sons. That became an emotional teaching moment used all season to carry Bernstein's players beyond the Xs and O's.
"He's like a coach and father for us," sophomore Alexis Bernal said. "He teaches us about football but mainly teaches us about life. He really doesn't care about winning and losing. He wants us to succeed in life. I really do believe him."