The chemistry between Central High boys soccer standouts Matthew Olmos and Pedro Hernandez was on perfect display in a late January game that propelled the Grizzlies to the Tri-River Athletic Conference title.
It was a hand-ball penalty roughly 50 yards from the goal 9 minutes into a game against Clovis West.
Without wasting a second -- or saying a word -- Olmos hit a streaking Hernandez in stride down the center of the field, with Hernandez finishing off the goal before anyone on either team had much of a chance to react.
The Grizzlies would go on to beat the Golden Eagles 4-2, jumping into a three-way tie atop the conference they would eventually win outright.
"It's one of those things where it seems like they always knew where the other was on the field," Central coach Daren Pittman said. "They had a good feel for each other."
Combining for 65 goals and 67 assists, Olmos and Hernandez were the driving forces behind a Grizzlies team that won the most games (26) in the Central Section this season while earning the No. 1 seed and reaching the semifinals of the Division I playoffs.
Olmos, a senior midfielder, and Hernandez, a senior forward, have been chosen The Bee's Co-Players of the Year.
"We had to step it up to be where we wanted to be at this year," said Hernandez, who finished with 35 goals, 28 assists and was named the TRAC Offensive MVP. "We had to push the other players, too, and show leadership."
Hernandez and Olmos developed their chemistry by playing three varsity seasons together.
"We were meant to play with each other. I think we play the exact same style. We think the same. And we both give 110% every game," said Olmos, a first-team All-TRAC selection who had 30 goals and 39 assists. "We really needed each other this year. We couldn't do it alone. It took the both of us."
While their statistics and importance to the team were nearly identical, they do have their differences as players.
Pittman said Hernandez's greatest strengths are his work ethic and relentlessness. "Any loose ball on the field, he's trying to chase it down. He literally never gives up."
Olmos, Pittman said, is the more technically sound player with the ball at his feet, and in his passing and shooting ability. "He's not only able to shoot the ball, but shoot it accurately."
Together, they were a lethal combination for opponent to contend with and a joy to coach.
"They are good kids to have on your team with great attitudes," Pittman said. "I'm glad they were a part of Central soccer. They have done a lot for the program."
He's qualified because: Tri-River Athletic Conference Offensive MVP led Central Section wins leader (26) with 35 goals and was second with 28 assists, capping three-year varsity career. Planning to play next season at Fresno City.
He's qualified because: First-team All-Tri-River Athletic Conference selection had team-leading 39 assists, second-best 30 goals for Grizzlies, who led the Central Section with 26 wins. Three-year varsity player is headed to West Hills-Lemoore.
Also considered: Luis Hernandez, Madera. The two-time County/Metro Athletic Conference MVP had 24 goals, 11 assists as Coyotes won first league title in 10 years and reached semifinals of D-I playoffs.