NORWALK — The painted sign that hung on the Edison High side of Falcon Stadium at Cerritos College Friday read, “For whom the bell tolls.”
Well, it tolls for thee, Edison.
For a sixth-straight year.
“Hey Rick!” Edison Coach Dave White shouted to assistant coach, Rick Justice, after the game."Make sure they know the bell’s right there, baby!”
White then gestured toward the north end zone where the coveted prize that awaits the winner of this annual barn-burner between two longtime and sometimes bitter rivals, Edison and Fountain Valley. There the prize sat as though waiting for someone to give it a ring.
Edison won The Bell Game, handily defeating Fountain Valley, 35-17 in a Sunset League showdown before a crowd of about 9,000.
The suspense from this usually tense, slug-it-out affair was gone almost immediately after Edison stormed to a 14-0 lead just 6:05 gone in the contest.
The Chargers parlayed that quick start into a commanding 28-8 halftime lead. They cruised from there and built the lead to 35-3 early in the second half.
Fountain Valley never quit and scored two touchdowns in the final quarter to make the score more respectable.
The 25-point halftime cushion even surprised White who was coaching his 25th Bell Game.
“It’s shocking,” he said of his team being in total control by the intermission. “That first half for us was like clockwork. Our offense, defense and special teams haven’t all clicked at one time in any game this season, but it did tonight. We had talked about doing that all week and the kids really responded.
“I thought our offensive line did a great job all night. We really controlled things early and had things going our way.”
Edison, which won its fourth-straight game to improve to 4-0 in league and 7-2 overall, made it look easy on the game’s opening drive. The Chargers moved from their own 20 in eight plays to paydirt. Quarterback Chase Favreau, playing in his first Bell Game, took off on a 36-yard scoring run and Gavin Perdomo’s conversion made it 7-0. Favreau ran the ball four times for 53 yard during the drive.
The junior got off to a hot start. In the opening half, he completed seven of nine passes for 125 yards and threw two touchdowns and gained 91 yards on 10 carries.
His first scoring pass came moments after his touchdown run.
Edison benefited from a mishandled snap by Fountain Valley punter Matt Schaubeck on the Barons’ ensuing series. Schaubeck was smothered by the Chargers’ Troy Baljeu to give the Chargers the ball at the Fountain Valley 20. On the next play, Favreau dropped back and hit Baljeu at the five and the junior receiver scored from there. Perdomo’s kick made it 14-0 at the 5:55 mark of the first quarter.
The Barons (3-5-1, 1-3) came to life after Baljeu’s score. They used the power running of Courtland Drummond, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound left tackle/outside linebacker/defensive end, to drive from their own 34 to the Edison five. The senior, who didn’t start in the backfield, bullied his way for 42 yards on the drive. The Barons had a critical offsides penalty on third down from the five and then Ryan Balzer, who got his second start at quarterback in place of injured Josiah Fernandez, was rushed into an incompletion by Edison defensive end Charles Burks on third down.
Derek Huynen came on to kick a 27-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with 10:48 to go in the second quarter.
The drive was kept alive by the first of three roughing-the-passer penalties against the Chargers on the night.
Edison responded immediately with another 80-yard scoring drive. This one took just five plays. Two were big pass plays from Favreau to Dejean King the first of which was a bomb that went 46 yards before King stepped out of bounds at the Fountain Valley 24. The next came two plays later when King made a nice, over-the-shoulder grab at the two and glided into the end zone, just inside the front pylon. Perdomo’s kick gave Edison a 21-3 advantage.
King also came up with a big defensive stop on Fountain Valley’s next series when the Barons had reached the Edison 42. Balzer threw into double-coverage toward receiver Sean Myers but the pass was broken up by Chargers’ defensive back Adam Spies and intercepted by King who made a one-handed grab and returned it six yards to the Edison 39.
The Chargers struck again just before the half. Sophomore tailback Elijah Herrera, who replaced injured starter Nicolas Masaniai, scored on a 30-yard run with 30 seconds left in the half.
Edison also scored on its first drive of the second half, a 40-yard, five-play drive that ended when Favreau hit a falling down Curren Provost toward the back of the north end zone. After Perdomo’s kick, Edison had a 35-3 lead with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
Fountain Valley got its first touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter when Myers scored on a five-yard pass from Balzer. Backed by a crowd that still was cheering them on, the Barons struck one final time, getting a 13-yard scoring run from Balzer with 25 seconds remaining.
“This is a big win for us,” White said. “To beat Fountain Valley six-straight times, to be 7-2 at this point in the season with a young team that some had written off awhile back, and be in line for a league championship, is a great feeling.”
With its arch rival now out of the way, Edison can turn its full attention to another “big one,” as White put it. The Chargers face Los Alamitos Thursday in a game at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach that will determine the 2010 Sunset League champion.
The Griffins on Friday also improved to 4-0 in league and 7-2 overall by winning, 28-6, at Huntington Beach.
“Los Al is really, really good but we’re excited to be playing them for the league championship” White said. “The key for us is that we can’t turn the ball over or give up the big play, and they have big-play capabilities. It should be a great game.”
Friday’s Bell Game, traditionally played before a standing-room-only crowd at Orange Coast College’s 7,500-seat LeBard Stadium, was moved to Falcon Stadium, capacity 12,000, to accommodate a bigger crowd, Fountain Valley Coach John Shipp said earlier in the week.