They'll march into Woodward Park early Saturday morning in bold colors, black and purple, as five-year reigning Central Section champions and with pride that screams as loud as those felt banners hanging on their gymnasium wall.
Madera South High Stallions boys cross country is more than seven runners burning 3.1 miles in 16 minutes or better and a state No. 7 ranking entering the CIF State Championships.
It's about the hunger to succeed coming from a school where 85% of the students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.
"We're Mexican, and we have to do a lot to get our families through the hard stuff," says Jose Herrera, a Madera South senior and section Division I gold medalist. "Most of us on the team work in the fields in the summer to help our families get more money. And it's really hard, it's ugly, it's not a nice thing."
It's with this foundation that the Stallions run with resolve, class and unity in a sport that commonly favors the affluent from places such as Buchanan, Arcadia, Vista Murrieta-Murrieta, Trabuco Hills-Mission Viejo and Great Oak-Temecula.
Herrera, like about 60% of his school's 2,750 students, has parents who migrated from Mexico.
He says his father, Eduardo Herrera, works 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
And he says his father takes him along to the fields in the summer for more than the "$5 to $10" the son gets paid a day from fellow farmworkers for assisting them.
"He takes me, too, so I can see how hard the work is in the fields," Jose says, "so I'll study more, get good grades and go to college and not have the same job they do."
Jose Herrera, with straight A's this semester, a cumulative 3.3 grade-point average and in line for a college scholarship -- maybe from Fresno Pacific -- is one of the most compelling success stories in a program saturated with them.
And, clearly, Stallions boys cross country is the standard bearer at a 7-year-old school with but one section title in all other sports combined -- girls volleyball in D-III in 2010.
Most responsible is coach Rich Parris.
"Those boys will run through the wall for him," Buchanan coach Brian Weaver says. "They will absolutely die for him. Rich has been with Hispanic kids, he knows how to work with that type of athlete, for sure. He understands their needs and what they can and can't do in life."
Herrera says: "He works us out hard; he beats us up. But by the end of practice we'll be thanking him and feeling more confident in ourselves. I'm really grateful to be coached by him and to be on this team."
Parris' résumé has reached an extraordinary level.
He delivered five consecutive section boys cross country championships at Madera from 2002-06 before shifting to Madera South in 2008.
The Stallions' boys promptly won two straight section D-III titles.
They were then bumped to D-II, where they won two more.
And then they were bumped yet again, to D-I this season, and they blew away the field last week at Woodward Park, beating state-ranked Buchanan by 35 points. They'll meet again while chasing prohibitive favorite Arcadia in Saturday's D-I boys race at 9 a.m.
Supporting Herrera (15:37) at the section finals in a point system that counts a team's top five runners were junior David Garcia (third, 15:49), senior Uriel Cabanas (fourth, 15:52), sophomore Juan Macias (16:07) and freshman Eduardo Herrera (16:12).
The younger Herrera is following big brother's footsteps. That's become expected as tradition continues to gain traction in a program that is turning other little heads in the community as well.
Parris and assistant Ernest Velarde, a respiratory therapist who has been with Parris from the beginning at Madera, learned this at a recent district meet for elementary runners.
"Kids came up to us and said they wanted to (eventually) beat Jose's times," Parris says. "They're already talking about being faster than him; they want to be the next great kid. They see him in the paper; they hear about him and the team. It was shocking; it was humbling."
Jose Herrera has been moved by the attention: "It makes me feel good, helping kids and making them want to run. Hopefully, they'll be in my shoes some day."
Parris, Madera South athletic director Marty Bitter says, "has methodically placed all the pieces together" in his latest dynasty.
That includes what Parris calls his "village" of assistants -- Velarde, Kelly Valmonte (also the school's softball coach), retired district administrator Mike Lennemann, former standouts Eloy Quintana of Clovis and Benny Madrigal of Madera, and Michael Staab.
Asked if he would accept a college offer to coach, Parris says: "They'd have to take my staff or I wouldn't go. I'm so fortunate here, and there are no egos. We want the kids to succeed, and we'll push them to the level needed to be successful. And it's not just about running. We consider a success when we get them to college."
Parris' demands count having his runners stand abreast following the finish line, acknowledging every last participant from their opposition.
"His heart and soul, his passion and work ethic, is unbelievable," Bitter says. "His runners don't show off; they're not macho or arrogant. This is who they are, and it's incredible."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6366, email@example.com or @beepreps on Twitter.