HUNTINGTON BEACH– After an action-packed first quarter against CdM on Friday, Edison would emerge with a small lead, and they would never give it up in a 28-20 victory. Like last season, the battle between two of Orange County’s premier public school programs was a clear silver medal match in the Sunset League. Here are five takeaways from the game:
DEFENSES CLAMP DOWN AFTER FIRST QUARTER
Exactly half the game’s scoring came in the first quarter, after which the dynamic of the game was pretty clear. While The Chargers never delivered an absolute knockout blow, they were always a small step ahead until the final whistle.
CdM got on the board first with a field goal with 8:48 left in the first quarter. Edison scored on its first drive as well with a touchdown catch by Nico Brown from Parker Awad to make it 7-0 with a little over half the quarter remaining. Sea Kings QB David Rasor capped off another scoring drive with a short rushing TD and they retook the lead, but Awad threw his second touchdown pass of the night, caught by Ashton Hurley, shortly before the first quarter was over.
Edison led 14-10, and would never relinquish the lead. The Chargers extended it to 21-10 in the waning seconds of the second quarter as Awad found Tucker Tripp in the end zone. Other than that drive, both defenses played lights-out defense from the end of the first quarter through the first half of the fourth frame.
“It’s a ‘bend, don’t break’ philosophy,” said Fletcher of Edison’s strong defense. “They can drive down, but we’re always going to be stout at the goal line.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN
The Sea Kings finally got back in the scoring column with 5:54 left in the game on a field goal, which cut the deficit to eight points. CdM was one defensive stop away from having the opportunity to tie the game up, but Edison maintained its poise and didn’t display any fear of losing control of the game. On their next drive, the Chargers extended their lead to 28-13 when Troy Fletcher broke free for a 55-yard rushing touchdown.
That essentially put the game away, but Corona del Mar had the wherewithal to make it interesting when Rasor capped off a quick drive with a touchdown pass to Evan Sanders. Still, Edison had the ball and 1:48 seconds to maintain an eight-point lead, and didn’t have trouble getting the first down needed to do so.
As usual, Edison had a handful of skill position players who contributed significantly in this game, in addition to strong offensive line play.
“When you can spread the ball around to those types of guys who can all make plays, it makes it easier as a play caller,” said head coach Jeff Grady. “I’m happy with how they played, I’m proud of them.”
“It’s great,” said Fletcher on that topic. “Always fun when someone gets that deep ball, and I’m always there to celebrate with the guys.”
Grady also said that their most important adjustment on defense after the first quarter was simply better tackling.
“That’s the key, bringing guys down. Because they’re good.”
Awad finished with three touchdown passes, and DE Austin Grbic set the tone defensively for Edison with four sacks. LB Mason Kubichek recorded a second-half pick for CdM.
CHARGERS CEMENT THEMSELVES AS A DIVISION 2 CONTENDER
Edison has projected as one of the top teams in CIFSS Division 2 since before the season started, and that hasn’t wavered at all. This win for second place in league just about seals it, barring something bizarre.
“To be honest, we haven’t talked about [playoff seeding] at all… I don’t pay attention to it.” said Grady. “And it’s really out of our control. We’ve just got to play the games, and whatever happens happens.”
There’s a very strong chance that Los Alamitos and Orange Lutheran – who both beat Edison by one score this season – will also be top seeds in Division 2. That means a title run for Edison would likely include having to avenge a prior loss to one or both of those teams.
Fletcher said that the Chargers are looking forward to the opportunity to prove themselves in the postseason, including potential rematches against Los Al and OLu.
“We’re looking forward to it. It left a bad taste in our mouth. We were close, within one score, we were right there.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
Edison WR Tyler Hampton didn’t find the end zone in this one, but he delivered the clear highlight of the night to help set up a touchdown (at the 2:11 mark).
SEA KINGS LIKELY WELL-POSITIONED FOR PLAYOFF RUN AS WELL
While CdM probably is disappointed that it didn’t improve on last season’s third-place showing, this loss doesn’t exactly drop its stock. The Sea Kings were the underdogs coming in, and they weren’t too far off from playing a high-level Division 2 team neck-and-neck. While the bid will have to be at-large, they project just as much as a force in the Division 3 or Division 4 playoffs as they did before. And we all know what happened the last time Corona del Mar was in the CIFSS Division 3 playoffs.