Not even a decent second-half performance by his team’s defense could console Edison High School Coach Bill Workman Friday night after his Chargers lost to El Modena, 14-0, in their season opener in LeBard Stadium at Costa Mesa.
“We were putrid,” Workman said after watching his team manage just five first downs and 27 yards in total offense against the Vanguards. “They chewed us up. We looked and played as if we were in a fog. I don’t know how to explain it, but this will go down as one of the bleakest nights in Edison history.”
An estimated crowd of 6,500 watched Edison get trampled by the Vanguards in the first half, as El Modena rolled up 168 yards in offense and scored two touchdowns. But during a scoreless second half, the Chargers’ defense dug in and limited the Vanguards to just 57 yards.
That hardly pleased Workman, though. The game, to him, had little redeeming value.
All Workman could think about was the eight sacks that El Modena inflicted upon his quarterback, Mike Angelovic.
And, the fact that his offense needed two penalties to just to finish with five first downs.
And, the two fumbles his team lost.
And, it could have been worse.
The first half was reminiscent of last year’s Southern Conference championship game, in which El Modena dominated favored Esperanza in a 26-0 Vanguard victory. Friday night, El Modena, ranked third in the Orange County Sportswriters Assn. preseason poll, made the top-ranked Chargers their latest victims.
The Vanguards opened a 14-0 lead after two periods, but if they hadn’t turned the ball over twice in Charger territory, they might have doubled their first-half output.
Neither team could generate much offense or excitement in a second half El Modena Coach Bob Lester described as a “sludge-drudge half.”
While the Chargers finally stopped the Vanguards’ offense, their offensive line couldn’t stop El Modena’s charging defense, which bottled up Angelovic all night and pressured him into a 5-for-14 passing performance, limiting him to 50 yards.
Twice, Angelovic lost fumbles after being sacked, and one of those turnovers led to a Vanguard touchdown in the second period. On another occasion, Angelovic was sandwiched by El Modena defensive tackle Don Gibson and guard Allen Ennis. He held onto the ball but was fortunate to walk away from that crunching hit.
Outside of its two turnovers, El Modena was unstoppable in the first half, as the Vanguards scored on their other two possessions.
On their first drive of the game, the Vanguards moved 76 yards on 13 plays to take a 6-0 lead, with Ross Bauer scoring from one yard out. Quarterback Chris Gallego, who finished with 51 yards passing on 7 of 13 attempts, completed four straight passes for 37 yards during the 6 1/2-minute drive. Eric Watson’s extra point attempt was wide to right.
El Modena took advantage of an Edison turnover for its second touchdown. Angelovic fumbled after being sacked by Robert Nasser, and Jeff Blake recovered at the Edison eight-yard line. Two plays later, Bauer fumbled on the one, but Ennis recovered the ball in the end zone for the score.
Bauer completed a half-back option pass to Blake for the two-point conversion.
Bauer finished with 115 yards rushing, including 105 in the first half. Most of his big gains came through the left side of the line, where Gibson and Ennis, both two-way players, blew apart the Chargers’ defensive front.
That pair, along with tackle Grant Grable and defensive end Robert Nasser, made life miserable for Angelovic.
“We’re gonna let all the linemen play quarterback next week,” Workman said. “I thought we had a veteran offensive line, but I went to the horse races this summer, and the El Modena line looked like they were coming out of the starting gates on every play. No one will ever know if Kaleaph Carter can run or not.”
At least not this week. Carter, Edison’s tailback, has been heralded as one of the best sophomores in Southern California, but he was never a factor Friday night after gaining just 24 yards in 11 tries. Still, he was the Chargers’ leading rusher. With the quarterback sacks, Edison finished with minus-23 yards rushing.