With a season very much in doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic last school year, a six-game schedule was a welcome development for high school football programs.
The return of the Battle at the Beach passing tournament at Edison High School is as good a sign as any that a closer-to-normal season is on the horizon — one with nonleague games and playoffs, too.
Edison appeared motivated on Saturday, showcasing a bounty of weapons on the outside. The Chargers opened the day with convincing wins over San Diego Cathedral Catholic and Eastvale Roosevelt.
In all, the host strung together three wins in a row in pool play, also earning a narrow win over West Hills Chaminade 22-20.
Behind that run, Edison punched its ticket into the sought-after gold bracket, returning to the final eight of the seven-on-seven event for the first time since 2018.
“I love our effort,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “I love our team, I love how we competed, and just like probably every other team out here, there’s so much room for improvement, and that’s why we do these things and figure out where you need to work, and we found that out.”
Servite beat Edison 15-9 in the quarterfinals, ending the afternoon for the Chargers. The Friars would advance to the final, but Santa Margarita bested Servite in the championship game 25-19.
Grady emphasized that reps are needed against good teams to get better. The Chargers, who went 3-2 in the tournament, had a chance to play against both finalists in the latest edition of the Battle at the Beach.
“I just think that our team is on the same page with everything,” senior middle linebacker Peyton Gregory said. “We’ve known each other for a long time, we’ve been playing with each other for a long time, and that’s going to help a lot.”
Mater Dei transfer Parker Awad received the lion’s share of the snaps at quarterback for Edison, which will have a new face under center this year following the graduation of Braeden Boyles and Jacob Hanlon.
In what has been a condensed offseason, Awad has been working on ways to make himself an asset for his new squad.
“I’ve been working on my footwork, trying to speed it up a little bit and tie it to the routes I’m throwing, and then just trying to gain some weight, too,” Awad said. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot trying to put on some muscle.”
The Chargers worked the ball down the field with great effect in the morning via deep passes to Tyler Hampton, who won the CIF Southern Section Division 1 high jump championship just three weeks ago. Hampton used that athleticism to take the top off the defense and make contested catches near the goal line.
Edison also saw Mater Dei transfer Ashton Hurley, Troy Fletcher and Isaiah Riley factor into the scoring, along with contributions from others.
“I played with Ashton in Pop Warner,” Hampton said. “We’ve been great buddies since then, and I think it’s going to help us tremendously having dual threats on both sides, and having Tucker Tripp, too, we’re going to have a really good receiver corps this year.”
Edison also has the reigning Sunset League offensive player of the year in Nico Brown among its group of receivers.
Defensively, Jackson Irwin came away with multiple interceptions. Logan Gregory, Cody Grbic and Riley were also responsible for creating turnovers.
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