At one point in the Sunset League football opener, it seemed as though Edison High’s defense was trying to outscore its offense.
Finding the end zone wasn’t an issue for Edison at rival Huntington Beach on Thursday night.
The Chargers returned three interceptions for touchdowns and one fumble for a touchdown, blowing out the Oilers 63-0 and handing them their most lopsided loss in the rivalry that dates back to 1969.
Edison (4-2, 1-0 in league) kicked off its league title defense with a dominant performance, coming up with eight turnovers, five interceptions and three fumbles. The Chargers, who have gone undefeated in league the past two years, won their 11th straight league game.
Practically everyone who touched the ball on defense for Edison scored in the second half. In the third quarter, defensive back Brandon Moradian returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown, defensive lineman Kele Cooper returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown, and defensive back Marcus Pittman returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown.
The last defensive player to score was Nathan Nabal, on a 25-yard pick-six midway through the fourth quarter. The Chargers bounced back from their 23-20 setback at San Clemente last week.
“They were very opportunistic on defense,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “I think we only had, minus that last possession [at the end], two possessions in the second half.”
Edison, ranked No. 6 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll, didn’t need to be on offense to match the most points the program has scored in three years.
The one player who sparked the Chargers in the first half was McCade Barrett, a cornerback and punt returner. Whenever he touched the ball, something good happened at Cap Sheue Field.
He jump-started the Chargers with two big plays. The senior returned a punt 38 yards and an interception 41 yards to set up Edison’s first two touchdowns.
Barrett’s all-around first-half effort, which included two interceptions, was more than enough for Edison to beat Huntington Beach (1-5, 0-1) for the eighth straight year in league. The Chargers lead the series against the Oilers 33-6-1.
When Barrett wasn’t getting his hands on the ball for the Chargers, it was Moradian, Cooper and Pittman, and they knew what to do with it in the third quarter. Nine seconds into the second half, Moradian had his pick-six, and 1:44 later, Cooper recovered a fumble and rumbled in for the score. Late in the third quarter, Pittman turned in the longest pick-six.
“It’s always fun when you can get everyone in the game and have who people who don’t get to play score,” Barrett said. “[It’s good to] come out here and make a statement in league, showing them we’re the real deal.”
Barrett and Edison’s defense, which allowed 23 passing yards and 96 rushing yards, showed they’re the league favorites.
After punting on their first two possessions, Barrett got the Chargers going. He fielded a punt near Edison’s sideline, and then went right, returning it 38 yards to Huntington Beach’s 20-yard line with about 4½ minutes left in the first quarter.
The Chargers struck right away, in two plays, as Griffin O’Connor hit David Atencio on a slant going for a five-yard touchdown. The Yale-bound quarterback completed 15 of 19 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Barrett helped set up the next touchdown on another long return. This time, he picked off a pass and returned it 41 yards. Edison took over inside the Oilers’ 20-yard line, and after O’Connor’s 15-yard pass to Atencio, the offense capitalized on the turnover. Hunter Griggs’ one-yard touchdown run allowed Edison to go ahead 14-0 with around 7½ minutes remaining in the first half.
The Chargers would get the ball back in 68 seconds. Huntington Beach’s offense didn’t help its cause of keeping the ball.
The Oilers had a second-and-one situation after a nine-yard run by running back James Stevens, who finished with 18 carries for 88 yards. The Oilers then committed consecutive five-yard penalties, putting them in a tough spot at second-and-11. Huntington Beach punted, one of five times that it did in the first half, the ball out of bounds, away from Barrett.
The punt traveled only 23 yards, and Edison took advantage of the great field position. The offense needed five plays to cover 42 yards, and Tanner Nelson collected the last seven on a touchdown run.
With Jack Carmichael missing his second straight game with a fractured ankle and his backup, Chad Pavlik, going down with an ankle injury a minute into the second quarter, Nelson earned his first carries of the season. The sophomore finished with six carries for 36 yards.
The Chargers added a third straight rushing touchdown with less than a minute to go in the first half, as Mikey Walters scored from three yards out to make it Edison 28-0.
Huntington Beach’s crowd didn’t have much to cheer about when it came to offense. The biggest applause from the home side came during halftime, when a teenager made a 15-yard field goal and earned a year’s worth of Chick-fil-A.
The Chargers would go on to eat, too, feasting on six second-half turnovers.
“We’re not going to beat anybody if we turn the ball over that many times,” Huntington Beach coach Brett Brown said. “We threw [the ball] right to them. It’s just one of those days.”
Edison 63, Huntington Beach 0
Edison………………….….7 21 28 7 — 63
Huntington Beach……..0 0 0 0 — 0
E – Atencio 5 pass from O’Connor (J. Morrell kick), 3:44.
E – Griggs 1 run (J. Morrell kick), 7:29.
E – Nelson 7 run (J. Morrell kick), 5:14.
E – Walters 3 run (J. Morrell kick), :57.
E – Moradian 33 INT return (J. Morrell kick), 11:51.
E – Cooper 27 fumble return (J. Morrell kick), 10:07.
E – Nabal 13 pass from O’Connor (Burris kick), 4:43.
E – Pittman 67 INT return (Erickson kick), :16.
E – Nabal 25 INT return (Morton kick), 6:17.
E – Nelson, 6-36, 1 TD.
HB – Stevens, 18-88.
E – O’Connor, 15-19-0, 133, 2 TDs.
HB – McLawyer, 1-3-1, 15.
E – Atencio, 8-42, 1 TD.
HB – Moore, 1-15.