HUNTINGTON BEACH - An energetic voice pierced through the chilly air as darkness began to drape itself on Edison’s football field.
“Effort! Effort! Effort!” Edison football coach Dave White barked to his players sprinting across the field.
“Two more to be a CIF champ!”
For Edison and White, the quest for an elusive CIF championship continues this week.
In his 27th season as the Chargers’ coach, White will attempt to capture his first CIF-Southern Section title in four tries Friday when top-seeded Edison (12-1) takes on No. 3 seeded Villa Park (12-1) in the Southwest Division final at Angel Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Edison, a longtime, large-school powerhouse, has lost in its last three appearances in the finals (2001, 2006, 2009) after claiming titles in 1970, 1979, 1980 and 1985.
“We’re tired of being the bridesmaid,” said offensive line coach Harry Schmidt, White’s longest tenured assistant coach.
“It’s time to break that spell.”
White, 56, is hungry for a CIF championship. He was a star athlete at Edison and groomed as an assistant coach to take over the program. But White isn’t making the pursuit this week about him. He wants his players to hoist the championship trophy.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach for 34 years and I’ve got a few more left in me,” he said. “These seniors, this is their one chance.”
JUST WIN, BABY
Edison’s latest opportunity for a CIF title arrives in their first season in the Southwest Division.
The Chargers, along with the rest of the Sunset League, were moved during the offseason from the Pac-5 Division, considered be the toughest division in the section, if not California.
The Marmonte League, which includes private school powers St. Bonaventure of Ventura and Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, took the Sunset League’s place in the Pac-5.
The Chargers flourished under White in the Pac-5, previously known as Division 1. They were two-time runner-ups in the Pac-5 and once in Division 1.
Edison wanted to remain in the Pac-5 but is still excited about its chance in the Southwest.
The Chargers beat Villa Park earlier this season, 27-7.
“A championship is a championship,” White said. “This is no easy division. Tustin and Foothill, Villa Park and Edison, I think, could beat any team on any given night.”
The Chargers have the benefit of perspective. They played their usual sample of Pac-5 teams in the nonleague season, including Pac-5 finalist Mater Dei. Edison fell to the Monarchs, 20-14.
And in the end, the Chargers’ Pac-5 pedigree still supplies fuel.
“If anything, we came out with a chip on our shoulder (this season) because we wanted to prove we’re a Pac-5 school,” senior quarterback Alek Torgersen said.
WIN ONE FOR COACH
The Chargers also are motivated to win a title for White, who took over the program in 1986 from Bill Workman.
“We want to win it for him,” Torgersen said of White. “He loves us. He would do anything for us and we would do anything for him.”
White has produced some excellent teams.
Edison entered the 2009 Pac-5 final with a 13-0 record. But the Chargers and their vaunted passing attack fell to Servite, 16-6, on a rainy night at Angel Stadium.
Edison had defeated Servite earlier in the season, 23-9.
In 2006, the Chargers beat three private schools (Crespi of Encino, Servite, Santa Margarita) to reach the Pac-5 finals but fell to Orange Lutheran, 30-20, at Home Depot Center. Aaron Corp threw two touchdowns and ran for two more for the Lancers.
In 2001, Edison fell Long Beach Poly and running back Hershel Dennis, 42-28, in the Division 1 final at Angel Stadium. The Chargers were within six points with less than three minutes left.
“We’ve been in every finals game,” Schmidt said. “We always had a chance to win it and just came up short.”
White said the details will be important against Villa Park.
“All big games are (about) the little things – it’s the turnovers, it’s the penalties,” he said. “It’s going to be a close game, probably. It’s probably going to come down to the team that turns it over the least amount of times.”
SECRET FOR SUCCESS
Edison is seeking its first CIF title under White but the Chargers have enjoyed plenty of success under his watch.
His resume includes several outright or shared Sunset League titles, including six of the past seven. Edison also won its 200th game under White earlier this season.
“Coach White has done a great job,” said Workman, who guided the Chargers to their CIF titles in 1979, ’80 and ’85 and a then-county record 32-game winning streak. “They’re overdue (for a CIF title). Their record speaks for itself.”
White was the quarterback on Workman’s first team at Edison in 1973.
White went onto lead Orange Coast College to a mythical national title in 1975 and later played at Oregon State before returning to Edison.
Workman said White knew early on that he wanted to coach. White was an assistant on Workman’s championship teams and then took the reins when Workman became the coach at Orange Coast College.
"He’s a fiery competitor and his practices are not a cake-walk,” said Workman, 71, who remains close to the Edison program.
White also knows how to relate to players. His sons, Matt, and, Hunter, played for him at Edison. His youngest son, Garrett, played receiver on the freshman team this fall and is now in basketball.
"Dave White always gets the most out of his players," Servite coach Troy Thomas said in a text message. "I enjoy coaching against him because our team will have to rise to the challenge."
White said he is committed to coach at Edison through Garrett’s senior year, and then will evaluate. And if he departs without a CIF title?
“I think I can rest in peace if I don’t win Friday night, and feel good about what I’ve done,” White said. “But I would certainly like to win one.”
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