|OCVarsity Gridiron: Mater Dei is back|
Steve Fryer, Carlos Arias, and Dan Albano travel to Mater Dei to preview their biggest non-league challenge to date in Edison. Also, a preview of St. Bonaventure vs. Santa Margarita and Tesoro vs. Chaparral. Video by Jonathan Khamis, OCVarsity.com.
|Edison shuts out Servite|
Edison shut out Servite 6-0. Elijah Herrera scored the only touchdown of the game late into the 3rd quarter. It's the first time the Friars have been held scoreless since 2004. Video by Jonathan Khamis, for OCVarsity.com.
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Defense gives 'underdog' Edison some bite
HUNTINGTON BEACH – There seem to be underdogs everywhere in sports. The Edison football team has heard the term thrown around quite a bit the past two weeks.
The 3-0 Chargers are led by a defense whose players are generally characterized as being quick, if not fast. They're disciplined, although not particularly athletic. They're more physical than strong. A week ago they shocked many, including themselves, they say, when they shut out Servite, which hadn't been held scoreless since 2004 and hadn't lost to a county opponent in the regular season in three years (also Edison).
"It's another typical, aggressive, downhill Charger defense," Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. "Names are different, numbers are different, but the style is much the same. I'm always impressed with the aggressiveness of Edison's defensive players."
Edison coach Dave White dubs the 2012 version a "no-name" defense, one void of stars, where a different player might come through on any given play. The fifth-ranked Chargers have come to embrace their underdog tag, which they have been given again heading into Friday's showdown with No. 3 Mater Dei at Orange Coast College.
"We love it," said White, his first-string defense having yet to allow a touchdown after three games. "We don't have a lot of guys that are getting recruited by big schools, so I understand why we're not favored against the good teams."
Perhaps no two players personify Edison's underdog spirit more than senior linebackers Robert Reyes and Elijah Herrera.
Herrera, a team co-captain, stands 6-foot, 180 pounds. He doubles as a running back, leads the team in tackles, and is second in rushing yards. A year ago he led the Chargers in rushing, but he was set to primarily serve on defense this season. With tailback Marquis Ross out because of an injury against Servite, Herrera carried the ball 15 times for 119 yards and scored the game's lone touchdown.
"Edison lives off guys like him," White said. "They do whatever you ask them to do."
Herrera virtually grew up a Charger, as two of his brothers and two more stepbrothers played football at Edison. He earned All-Sunset League second-team honors last season and would love to play at the next level next season. If only he can shake that underdog stigma.
"I've emailed some schools, they emailed me back," Herrera said. "Nothing too crazy, no offers. I feel like people think because of my size I don't play linebacker."
Herrera said it's the position he has played since Pop Warner. The same goes for Reyes, whose obstacles run a bit deeper.
Reyes has seen a lot in his 17 years, from alcohol and drug abuse around him to family and friends in jail. Once a young troublemaker himself, he eventually grew to reject the environment around him and is in line to be the first person in his family to go to college.
"The bad example helped me," Reyes said. "That's not me. There are days you just have to be like, 'I'm not everybody else. I'm going to do right and listen to what my coach says. I'm not going to drink and do drugs.' I see what people do and I don't feel like I have any business in that."
So Reyes kept his business in football. He began playing at age 6, his first memories of the game clouded by visions of other kids' fathers watching their sons. When he looked to the sideline, he saw just his mother and brother. Still, football was a refuge long before his father came back into the picture a couple years ago.
"Football helps me a lot to overcome," Reyes said. "I feel like a different person sometimes when I'm out here. It's easy to let go of things. I just relieve any stress I had that week. It's therapeutic. I just love being on the field. There's nothing better. This is as easy as it possibly gets."
Reyes is making it look that way. He is third on the team in tackles and had a 66-yard interception return against Villa Park. Last week, his tackle for loss in the fourth quarter killed a potential winning drive by the Friars.
"I'm real proud of him, of everything — his football playing, his work ethic, his grades have gone up," White said. "That's what's fun about coaching, seeing kids overcome things. Some kids use excuses for various reasons and some overcome. He's overcome."
Underdogs always have to.
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