Quietly, without much attention, Hollywood's Bernstein High is getting ready for its moment in the spotlight as one of the top teams in the new Division III of the City Section.

One of the great turnaround stories is unfolding at a school that can be seen as you drive on the 101 freeway past the Sunset Blvd. exit toward downtown Los Angeles.

The first varsity football team went 0-9 in 2008. Then 1-8 in 2009, 1-9 in 2010 and 2-8 in 2011.

Masaki Matsumoto took over as head coach last season, and the Dragons went 8-3.

Matsumoto has been getting his players up bright and early, working them in the weight room and building up a program that should be able to keep improving.

Julio Quintero, a defensive back-running back, is considered the top player. Quarterback Abraham Alvarado and receiver Bairon Palma also should be key players.

What's clear is that Matsumoto is making a difference at Bernstein.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com