LE GRAND -- All anyone needs to know about Bob Perez can be summarized by a single play in last year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V final.
After sitting out the better part of a quarter with calf cramps, Perez limped back onto the field just as Capital Christian running back Keith Johnson was starting to take over the game.
In Perez's first play back, Johnson received the ball on a pitch to the right and began looking for a hole.
Before Johnson even had time to make a read, Perez shot through a tiny gap and leveled the running back for a loss.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise, though.
When The Hitman has you in his sights, there's no escape.
"That's Bob," Le Grand coach Rick Martinez said. "It's a completely different game when he's out there, and the rest of his team plays differently because they want to match what he's doing.
"He couldn't even get on the field for a quarter because the cramps were so bad, and his first play back in, he makes a huge play.
"He's that kind of kid."
Unfortunately, Perez's impact wasn't enough to turn things around for Le Grand, as it lost the title game 35-27.
The pain from that evening has fueled the senior heading into 2010.
"I think about it almost every day," Perez said. "We had that game and we didn't put it away.
"It still hurts, but it also motivates me to get it done this year."
Knowing this is his final shot, Perez enters the season in the best shape of his life.
The reigning Southern League MVP has dropped 20 pounds, yet is lifting more than ever.
"I just started running a lot," Perez said. "I don't want to have a situation where I cramp up again, so I knew I had to be in better shape.
"At the same time, I'm stronger and faster than ever before. I'm excited for the season."
With Perez leading the charge, there's plenty of reason for the Le Grand faithful to be optimistic as well.
Martinez has the tools to once again challenge for the section crown.
"This is a junior-heavy group, so we're going to lean on Bob and the other returners, but we definitely have the pieces," Martinez said. "It's like I told the kids, though. We've gone from being the hunters to the hunted."
Junior Alex Bucios takes over at quarterback in just his second season of football, and Daniel Guizar will try to replace 1,000-yard rusher Tony Ortegon. A svelter Perez is hoping to see an increased number of touches at fullback as well.
Bucios will have a pair of solid returners to pass to in receiver Zach Moreno and tight end Alex Martinez.
"We were the better team last year, and we're hungry to get back to the title game," Alex Martinez said. "We feel like we have something to prove."
Perez, Alex Martinez and Ricky Martinez will anchor a stout defense.
"The talent is there, and this year we finally got over the 30-player mark," Martinez said. "Now we just have to focus on the details.
"If we improve our attention to detail this year, we'll have a good shot at going after a title."