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Los Alamitos football beats Edison to take control of Sunset League

Edison High's Tyler Hampton walks off the field as Los Alamitos celebrates a 27-20 win in a Sunset League game on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Just three weeks into the abbreviated high school football season, the pinnacle of the Sunset League slate may have already come to pass.

Makai Lemon had three receiving touchdowns, including one on Los Alamitos’ final drive, and the host Griffins defeated Edison 27-20 on Friday night in a league showdown with ample star power.

A sophomore two-way player, Lemon had eight receptions for 182 yards. He was the only one of quarterback Malachi Nelson’s receivers to make more than one catch on the evening, and he also had an interception.

With his big-play ability on display throughout the contest, Lemon’s biggest contributions came immediately following the tying score by Edison (2-1, 1-1 in league) midway through the fourth quarter.

It took Los Alamitos (3-0, 2-0) just four plays to regain the lead, as Lemon brought in a pass and sprinted up the left sideline for a 74-yard gain. Tyler Gioia made the tackle at the Edison 7 to save the touchdown, but Nelson found his favorite target again to make it 27-20 two plays later.

Los Alamitos' Makai Lemon carries the ball under pressure from Edison's Bradley Luna.
Los Alamitos’ Makai Lemon carries the ball under pressure from Edison’s Bradley Luna.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“That’s what got the momentum going,” Lemon said. “We needed one big play to get the momentum and just keep on rolling.”

There was 4:41 on the clock when the Chargers began their final drive. PJ Campbell demonstrated his toughness in helping his team move the chains, securing the ball through contact for a first down in Los Alamitos territory. It came as Edison quarterback Braeden Boyles, who was under duress all night, broke the pocket to his right.

“He got absolutely drilled, and he did a great job and held onto it, gutted it out,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said of Campbell, who had five catches for 48 yards.

The Chargers were unable to keep the drive going, however, as a key sack was turned in by Tyler DeLeon and Jojo Nuez. The clock ran out on Edison on the next play.

Los Alamitos coach Ray Fenton has learned to respect the talent in the Sunset League, cracking wise about his personal appearance being a result of coaching in close games.

Edison quarterback Braeden Boyles is sacked by Los Alamitos' Sinn Brennan.
Edison quarterback Braeden Boyles is sacked by Los Alamitos’ Sinn Brennan.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“This is why I look the way I do,” Fenton said. “You see my hair. You see these wrinkles. I’d like to call it experience, but it’s experiencing games like this.”

The Griffins have won back-to-back home games against Corona del Mar and Edison in a front-loaded league schedule, giving Los Alamitos the inside track to the league championship.

With Nelson and Lemon both being sophomores, the Griffins could have an electrifying connection that terrifies defensive secondaries for a couple of more years. Fenton said that is a blessing he does not deserve.

“[As] little kids, we always dreamed of this, and it actually happened,” Lemon said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Edison had its own unstoppable duo of Boyles to Nico Brown, who had eight catches for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on plays of 15, 58 and 19 yards, the last knotting the score at 20-20 with 6:33 to play.

Edison's Nico Brown makes a catch over Los Alamitos' Lane Broderick for a touchdown.
Edison’s Nico Brown makes a catch over Los Alamitos’ Lane Broderick for a touchdown.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Brown said it “definitely hurts” to lose in a game that many believed would decide the league championship after the week before. He added, “We’ll remember it, and we’ll get them next year.”

With no fall sports playoffs in the CIF Southern Section this season, the league title is the top prize for teams to play for in the shortened season.

Defensively, the Chargers got interceptions from Troy Fletcher and Brown, and Austin Grbic had a sack.

Halfway through the six-game season, the Battle for the Bell is next for Edison against rival Fountain Valley. The Chargers will also play against CdM and Huntington Beach.

“It’s a limited opportunity,” Grady said. “I feel bad for them getting six opportunities, but at least it’s six opportunities to do something. I’m really proud of them. We just came up short tonight.”

Edison's Jerian Operana celebrates after a play against Los Alamitos on Friday.
Edison’s Jerian Operana celebrates after a play against Los Alamitos on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Sunset League

Los Alamitos 27, Edison 20

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Edison 6 – 7 – 0 – 7 – 20

Los Alamitos 7 – 13 – 0 – 7 – 27

FIRST QUARTER

E – Brown 15 pass from Boyles (Holmes kick blocked), 5:22.

LA – Lemon 80 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 5:08.

SECOND QUARTER

E – Brown 58 pass from Boyles (Holmes kick), 10:42.

LA – Lemon 5 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 8:49.

LA – Porch 3 run (McLachlan kick), 4:20.

THIRD QUARTER

None.

FOURTH QUARTER

E – Brown 19 pass from Boyles (Holmes kick), 6:33.

LA – Lemon 7 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 4:41.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

E – Liau, 19-64.

LA – Gutierrez, 11-79.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

E – Boyles, 23-32-2, 295, 3 TDs.

LA – Nelson, 12-18-2, 218, 3 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

E – Brown, 8-178, 3 TDs.

LA – Lemon, 8-182, 3 TDs.

::

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