The Edison High football team will be in Hawai’i for its first game of the season against Wailuku Baldwin on Friday, but the Chargers are not in a relaxed state of mind.
Expectations of the program often hold that the Chargers compete for a league championship. In finishing the 2018 campaign with a 5-6 record following a first-round loss at San Juan Hills in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, many of the players returning for the Chargers were left with a bad taste in their mouth.
“[Finishing the regular season at] 5-5 is not exciting to me,” junior quarterback Braeden Boyles said. “This year, I think [it is about] closing out those close games at the end.
“We lost four of my starts by seven points. That is just one touchdown away, a couple less mistakes. That’s the big difference.”
Boyles took over as the Chargers’ starting quarterback in their final nonleague game against San Clemente last season. The dual-threat signal-caller was pressed into action following a shoulder injury to then-senior starter Patrick Angelovic.
He went 3-4 to finish out the year, leading Edison to wins over Huntington Beach, Newport Harbor and Fountain Valley. All four losses came by a touchdown-margin — against San Clemente, Corona del Mar, Los Alamitos and San Juan Hills in the playoffs.
The Sunset League further cemented itself among the toughest high school football conferences in Orange County with the addition of CdM last season.
Mike Walters, a senior running back and outside linebacker, has his sights set on winning the league title, something that Edison last did in 2016, which was Dave White’s final season as head coach. Walters, who was voted one of the team’s captains, has the CdM and Los Alamitos games on his radar.
“Those were both close games last year,” Walters said. “They’re both really good teams. I know both teams have a lot of their starters coming back, a lot of good players, but I think we do, too, and I think we can compete with those teams.”
Chargers coach Jeff Grady, who enters his third year as the head of the program, admits that it can be difficult to divert attention away from the season-long goals, but he also believes that doing so is a necessity.
“You have outcome goals, end goals, which would be a league championship or a CIF championship, but how are you going to get there,” Grady said. “We set a series of process goals, and we just worry about the day. Win the day.”
He wants his team to focus on the task at hand, which meant not looking ahead to the season opener and executing plays as his team practiced on a Wednesday.
“On to Thursday,” Grady said following the practice. “If we get everyone thinking about the future instead of what is in front of them, I don’t think we will be very good. We just have to do the little things right and take care of today.”
When Edison met San Juan Hills in the Division 2 playoffs last year, it was a rematch from the regular season. In nonleague play, Edison defeated San Juan Hills 33-14, due in large part to a stout running defense.
The Chargers will host the Stallions in a nonleague game at Huntington Beach High on Sept. 13.
“It would be good to get them back after the playoff loss last year,” senior defensive end Trent Fletcher said. “It felt bad afterwards. It ended our season.”
Fletcher led the team with 15 tackles for a loss and 8½ sacks as a junior, and he said he would like to reach double-digit sacks this year.
Senior cornerback Tanner Nelson and Walters are expected to see substantial time at running back on offense.
Junior Jacob Hanlon and Boyles continue to share snaps at quarterback, and Grady said that each will get a chance to play in games, especially early.
Along with Walters and Fletcher, the Chargers also named senior interior offensive lineman Cade Jones and senior wide receiver Cole Koffler as their team captains.
Corona del Mar and Los Alamitos shared the Sunset League title last season, with Edison finishing in third place. All three teams have been placed in Division 3 for the upcoming season.
Not long ago, teams from the same league would compete in the same playoff division, and the new divisions have given the upper half of the Sunset League a flavor of providing potential playoff previews.
“I think it’s great,” Grady said of being in the same division with CdM and Los Alamitos. “I think people are probably where they are supposed to be. There is no perfect way to do anything as far as the playoff things go. It seems to be pretty fair across the board.”
CIF Southern Section Division: 3
Coach: Jeff Grady (third year)
Staff: Mike Walters (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Gregg Campbell (tight ends), Al Granado (defensive line), Ed Hwang and Kody Afusia (offensive line), Hector Martinez and Sean Colamonico (wide receivers), Larry Grady (defensive ends), Frank Seurer Jr. (secondary), George Greenwalt (receivers/secondary), Kenny Carmichael (defensive ends), Fred Marquez (secondary), Jimmy Flanagan (wide receivers/defensive backs), Sam Allen (equipment manager)
2018 season: 5-6 overall, 3-2 in the Sunset League (third place), lost 22-15 at San Juan Hills in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs
Offensive scheme: Spread
Defensive scheme: 4-4
Returning offensive starters: Six
Returning defensive starters: Six
Returning with honors: Sr. TE/DE Trent Fletcher, Sr. RB/OLB Mike Walters, Sr. DE Bryce Gilbert, Sr. C/G Cade Jones, Jr. C/DT Ryan Easterday, Sr. WR/FS Cole Koffler, Sr. T/DT Trent Jordahl, Sr. RB/SS Tanner Nelson
16 – vs. Wailuku (Hawaii) Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium in Hawaii, 9 p.m.
23 – Bye
29 – at Carson
6 – vs. Orange Lutheran at Huntington Beach High
13 – vs. San Juan Hills at Huntington Beach High
20 – at San Clemente
27 – Bye
4 – vs. Los Alamitos* at Huntington Beach High
11 – vs. Corona del Mar* at Newport Harbor High
18 – at Huntington Beach*
25 – vs. Fountain Valley* at Orange Coast College
31 – at Newport Harbor*
*denotes league game
All games 7 p.m. unless noted
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