The Edison High football team excelled last season during its first campaign under coach Jeff Grady.
The Chargers went 8-4 overall with a 4-1 Sunset League record, finishing in second place behind Los Alamitos. They went on to pick up a thrilling 28-27 double-overtime win at La Habra in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs before falling 42-13 in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Westlake Village Oaks Christian.
Edison has the tools in place for another successful run in 2018, but it will be forced to do so while undergoing a roster overhaul.
The Chargers return just three starters on offense and five on defense. Among the losses are quarterback Griffin O’Connor and wide receiver David Atencio, the school’s all-time leaders in passing yards and receptions, respectively. Last year, O’Connor shared the Daily Pilot Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year award and Atencio shared the Dream Team All-Purpose Player of the Year award.
“I hate to sound like coach speak, but everybody is going to have to contribute,” said Grady, whose team kicks off the season Friday against Tesoro, ranked No. 9 in the Division 2 preseason poll, at Huntington Beach High at 7 p.m. “It’s going to be a total team effort.”
Senior inside linebacker Luke Hoggard is one of the players Edison will lean on this season. Grady said Hoggard, who earned All-CIF Southern Section Division 2 honors in 2017, has received an offer from Brown.
I think we’re going to be just fine with what we’ve got. I’m not worried about losing those guys. I love them, but I think we’re going to be great.
Despite major holes to fill, Hoggard is excited to see who steps up this season.
“There’s a lot of senior leadership,” Hoggard said. “I think we’re going to be just fine with what we’ve got. I’m not worried about losing those guys. I love them, but I think we’re going to be great.”
Cameron Eden will rejoin Hoggard to lead the linebacker group, with the senior slated to see playing time both inside and outside. Senior Isaiah Palmer and junior Tanner Nelson are also back at cornerback for the Chargers.
Junior outside linebacker Michael Walters is another name to keep an eye on, with both Grady and Hoggard expecting him to make an impact for the 4-4 defensive front. Senior Jovanni Page, who started on the offensive line in 2017, is now a defensive tackle.
As for the offense, the most obvious change will come under center with Patrick Angelovic replacing O’Connor, who’s at Yale. The senior quarterback has not hesitated to lean on his former teammate for guidance.
“I’ve been talking to him a lot about how to cope with the pressure,” Angelovic said. “[Like] throwing a pick. You know it’s going to happen. I’m going to make bad plays, everyone does it. He said you can’t let the crowd get to you. You have to take it one play at a time. I’m just learning from his advice since he’s been there before.”
Angelovic has two family members, his father, Greg, and uncle, Mike, to ask for advice as well. Greg Angelovic and Mike Angelovic started at quarterback at Edison in the 1980s.
Patrick Angelovic will be throwing to some familiar faces on the outside. Junior Cole Koffler is back at wide receiver. Koffler caught the first touchdown pass of Angelovic’s varsity career — a 90-yard score against Newport Harbor last season. Seniors Nathan Nabal and Jacob Biddle will provide Angelovic with receiving options, while sophomore Dane Brenton joins the varsity as one of the standouts from last year’s freshman team that went undefeated.
Other notable sophomores include offensive guard Jacob Parsons, defensive tackle Eriq Hilliard and two players who could see action at receiver or defensive back in Jack Kosick and Bradley Luna.
In the backfield, the Chargers lost standout running back Jack Carmichael to graduation. Grady plans to do fill this void with a running back-by-committee approach.
The ideal situation may be to eventually settle on two key guys, but for the moment, Grady is expecting contributions from several players, including senior Kobe Lopez, Nelson, Walters and Eden.
“I think they’re all physical runners,” he said. “They’re downhill and they’re going to finish runs with their pads down.”
Angelovic is particularly excited to show what he and Lopez can showcase as seniors on the varsity squad. The two have played together every season since arriving at Edison.
“Kobe and I have really good chemistry and a connection when it comes to zone reads and stuff like that,” Angelovic said. “He’s been my running back all the way from freshman year. We’re almost the same person back there. We just have a good feel for each other. I’m hoping we can keep that going our senior year.”
The success of the running game will ultimately hinge on the offensive line’s ability to develop chemistry.
Edison is forced to replace four starters up front, with senior Grant Conaway serving as the lone returning starter. Conaway has transitioned to left tackle from guard and will be relied on as one of the team leaders.
“He’s the guy that’s directing who should block who, and he’s also a hype man,” Angelovic said of the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Conaway. “He always gets everyone hyped up for practice, even when we’re kind of tired and we’re on hour four of practice.
“It’s a hard, physical position, but he keeps [the linemen] going and keeps them mentally tough. He’s really going to help us this year.”
CIF Southern Section Division: 2
Coach: Jeff Grady (second year)
Staff: Mike Walters (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Gregg Campbell (tight ends/running backs), Al Granado (defensive line), Ed Hwang (offensive line), Matt Koffler (wide receivers), Larry Grady (defensive ends), Frank Seurer Jr. (secondary), George Greenwalt (receivers/secondary), Braydon Wilson (defensive ends), Dave Yonts (kickers), Fred Marquez (secondary), Jimmy Flanagan (defensive backs), Marcus Trujillo (kickers), Sam Allen (equipment manager)
2017 season: 8-4 overall, 4-1 in the Sunset League (second place), lost 42-13 to Westlake Village Oaks Christian in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs
Offensive scheme: No-huddle, spread
Defensive scheme: 4-4
Returning offensive starters: Three
Returning defensive starters: Five
Returning with honors: Sr. LB/FB Luke Hoggard; Sr. LB/FB Cameron Eden; Sr. CB/WR Isaiah Palmer; Sr. LT Grant Conaway; Sr. DT Jovanni Page
17 — vs. Tesoro at Huntington Beach High
24 — at Westlake Village Oaks Christian
30 — vs. Canyon at Huntington Beach High
7 — at San Juan Hills
14 — Bye
20 — vs. San Clemente at Huntington Beach High
27 — vs. Corona del Mar* at Huntington Beach High
5 — at Huntington Beach*
11 — vs. Newport Harbor* at Huntington Beach High
19 — vs. Fountain Valley* at Orange Coast College
26 — vs. Los Alamitos* at Cerritos College
*denotes league game
All games 7 p.m.
JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell