California’s Top 50 high school football teams: Nico Brown returns to lead No. 31 Edison Chargers

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Edison Chargers of the CIF Southern Section, the No. 31 team in our countdown.

MORE: PRESEASON ALL-STATE TEAM | TOP 50 COUNTDOWN

EDISON TEAM PAGE | 2021 FALL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Jeff Grady, 5th season as Edison’s head coach (27-14 overall record)

2020-21 AT A GLANCE

  • Overall record: 5-1
  • League record: 4-1 (2nd in Sunset League)

2021 SCHEDULE

All games are at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise.

  • Aug. 12 (Scrimmage) vs. Santa Margarita – 6 p.m.
  • Aug. 20 @ Venice
  • Aug. 27 vs. Clovis North
  • Sep. 3 @ Orange Lutheran
  • Sep. 10 @ Palos Verdes
  • Sep. 17 vs. San Clemente
  • Sep. 30 vs. Newport Harbor
  • Oct. 8 @ Los Alamitos
  • Oct. 15 vs. Corona del Mar
  • Oct. 22 @ Fountain Valley
  • Oct. 29 vs. Huntington Beach

ALL-SUNSET LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED

QB Braeden Boyles – Offensive Back of the Year
DB Jack Kosick – Defensive Back of the Year
DL Jeremy Alcorn – Defensive Lineman of the Year
OL Jake Parsons – Offensive Lineman of the Year
LB Dane Despars – 1st Team
OL Ryan Easterday – 1st Team
LB Jerian Operana – 1st Team
WR/DB Bradley Luna – 1st Team
RB Mateo Liau – 1st Team
WR PJ Campbell – 2nd Team
OL Seth Allen – 2nd Team
OL Jackson Schnoor – 2nd Team

PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Nico Brown – SR.

A 3-star prospect with two Ivy League offers, Brown totaled 664 yards and eight receiving touchdowns in six games last season, plus 74 kick return yards. He was named the Sunset League Offensive Player of the Year.

Coach Grady: “I think in the spring he just matured physically. He takes his health, his training, time in the weight room seriously, he’s all in. His explosiveness jumps out at you and makes us a different team.”

WR Tyler Hampton – SR.

Hampton caught for 208 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, and was named Second Team All-Sunset League.

Coach Grady: “He’s an All-CIF champion high jumper. He’s also tall, explosive, he attacks the ball.”

WR Ashton Hurley – JR.

A 2023 transfer from Mater Dei, Hurley has a strong chance to be an impact player right away. Grady described him as savvy and smart.

QB Parker Awad – JR.

Awad is another junior transfer from Mater Dei that Coach Grady is excited about, and the Chargers’ likely QB1 heading into the season.

MLB Peyton Gregory – SR.

Gregory was third on the Chargers with 48 tackles last season, and also forced a fumble.

Coach Grady: “He’s a leader by example, does things the right way.”

DE Austin Grbic – SR.

Grbic was second on the team with seven tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season en-route to making first team all-league.

Coach Grady: “Grbic is very explosive. He can fly for a lineman. I mean, he can flat-out run.”

DT Hudson Letterman – SR.

Letterman was Second Team All-Sunset League after recording 25 tackles, four TFLs, and three sacks.

CB Troy Fletcher – SR.

Another all-league second teamer, Fletcher led Edison with two interceptions last season. He’s also gotten occasional reps at receiver and tailback the past two seasons, but Grady expects him to have a significantly larger role on offense as a senior.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATES

Coach Grady also named several players he expects to shine in larger roles this season:

RB Carter Hogue – JR.
RB Isaiah Riley – JR.
LB Dom Lopez – JR.
WR Tucker Tripp – JR.
SS Jackson Erwin – JR.
FS Cody Grbic – SR.
CB/WR Malachi Pierce – SR.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

Despite losing a stacked senior class, Edison should remain a clear upper-division playoff contender from start to finish this season. In addition to returning a handful of all-league members, the Chargers have a strong, deep junior class filled with guys who are ready to break out as high-level starters. Without a doubt, they have a strong chance to be a major playoff threat as high as Division 2.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

Unless there’s a bad case of the injury bug, Edison has a very high floor, and is a safe bet to land in one of the Southern Section’s top playoff divisions. Even in a year when the Sunset League has one of its deepest groups in generations, the Chargers are likely to be somewhere near the top.

While expectations are always high for the long-time Huntington Beach powerhouse, Edison was even better than many expected in the spring because numerous returning seniors had major individual breakouts. Many impact starters from last season’s squad will be back as upperclassmen, and depth isn’t usually as much of a question mark for the Chargers as many other CIFSS heavyweights – the foundation for a contender is clearly there. So, whether they’re a very good team or a truly dominant one will largely come down to how many already-good players prove themselves as stars.

COACH SAID

“I’m not one to look too far to the future. We just try to do what we can today, that’s what we talk about every day. Win the day, find something to get better at, and tackle tomorrow when we get to tomorrow.”

“We’ve tried our best to maintain the culture that’s been at Edison for 50 years. That’s a challenge, to be a really good program for 50-plus years. What we try to do is maintain it, and then take it to the next level. Our guys are really close, they grow up playing together, going to school together, it makes it really fun to watch. We have a great sense of our community at our school, and in our program… Our players play for one another – they’re all close and there’s good leadership, and that’s the sign of a good Edison team. We practice physically, and that’s been the mentality here for many years. We’re not going to be the biggest team most nights, but we play hard and our guys fly around.”

— Head coach Jeff Grady

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