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Edison stifles Villa Park for Southwest Division title
ANAHEIM – The dropped passes and slips were plentiful on the rain-slickened grass field.
But the conditions for Friday's CIF-SS Southwest Division final weren't nearly as challenging as the downpour Edison encountered during another notable showdown at Angel Stadium three years ago.
And the outcome for Edison and Coach Dave White this time wasn't nearly as agonizing.
It was pure joy.
The Chargers exorcized demons of playoffs past and lifted White to his first CIF title – the school's first since 1985 - by sprinting past Villa Park, 28-10, in front of 9,807 at Angel Stadium.
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The Chargers chanted the name of their coach – in his 27th season – in the celebration, but the 56-year-old thrust the shiny plaque back at his players, yelling that the award belonged to them.
"I love you guys," White screamed to his players. "CIF champs!"
Edison arrived at Angel Stadium for the Division 1 final in 2009 with a vaunted pass attack and a perfect record. But the Chargers were washed away on a stormy night by Servite, 16-6.
That loss left White 0 for 3 in CIF finals and arguably the most accomplished Orange County football coach without a title.
"For me, it's a monkey off the back but for these guys, they have been so good this year and worked so hard," White said. "I'm just so happy that they are CIF champs. They deserve it."
Edison (13-1) was built for Friday's tough-sledding. Behind a strong ground game and swarming defense, the Chargers took control in the second half and made a convincing argument that they should be selected for the CIF State Division II regional game for Southern California. The announcement will be made Sunday.
Edison's only loss came against Mater Dei, which plays Long Beach Poly in the Pac-5 Division finals Saturday night. A victory by the Monarchs would only make the Chargers' resume look stronger.
Edison quarterback Alek Torgersen turned runner by gaining a season-high 70 yards on the ground behind the Chargers' huge offensive line.
The senior gave Edison a 28-10 lead victory with a 25-yard TD run with 8:01 left in the fourth quarter on third-and-12. The score came moments after Edison recovered a fumble at the Villa Park 25 after a punt bounced off a Spartans player.
Torgersen also capped the opening possession of the second half with a 20-yard TD pass to junior tight end Markus Boyer, son of former Edison, USC and NFL player Mark Boyer.
Edison's defense held Villa Park bruising running back Meki Tafuna to 37 yards on 16 carries and forced five turnovers (four interceptions). Tafuna had 190 yards against Tustin the semifinals.
The Chargers also recorded two safeties, including one on a combination sack from Garrett Garcia and Trenton Aschoff late in the third for a 21-7 lead. Aschoff finished with 2 1/2 sacks.
The ground attack and defense turned the Chargers' 12-7 halftime lead into a victory march for White in the second half.
"We wanted to get that first one for Coach White," Torgersen said. "We wanted to be that class."
Torgersen carried the ball 12 times. He also completed 6 of 17 passes for 116 yards.
"We dropped some balls that we probably should have caught so I just said, we're going to live on his (Torgersen's) legs and the linemen, and we did," White said.
Edison also received a spark from running back Marquis Ross, who returned from a knee injury to gain 79 yards on 18 carries.
The Chargers rushed for 161 yard and held Villa Park to 52.
"We definitely wore them down," Torgersen said. "It was straight heart and will tonight."
Said White about the Chargers' defense: "We haven't been run on all year. ... Our defense is unbelievable."
Villa Park (12-2) capitalized on an early Edison fumble to open a 7-0 lead on a tackle-shedding 10-yard TD run by Tafuna with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
Villa Park linebacker James Stamos recovered a fumble at the Edison 34 after the Chargers sent a high snap at Torgersen. Five players later, Tafuna rumbled in for the score.
The Spartans had their own issue with a snap later in the first quarter as they attempted a punt from their 14.
Villa Park sent a low snap to punter Jason Sanders, who chased the loose ball into the end zone. Sanders illegally kicked the loose ball – potentially saving a touchdown – but Edison earned a safety with eight seconds left in the first quarter.
Edison crept closer in the second with a 22-yard field by Hunter Kelley, who cut the Spartans' lead to 7-5 with 7:40 left in the half. Torgersen helped set up the score with a 47-yard connection to a wide-open Marcus Stepancich to the Spartans 12.
The Chargers' defense then set up a go-ahead 1-yard TD run by Donald Rice with 4:27 left in the second quarter. Rice scored on a fourth-and-goal play after an interception by cornerback Jeremy Maxwell. The junior returned the interception 31 yards to the Spartans' 29. Torgersen quickly connected with Stepancich again for 26 yards and Edison soon led, 12-7.
Rice also shined on defense with a team-high eight total tackles and interception.
The teams traded interceptions late in a wild close to the first half. The Spartans missed a 27-yard field goal as time expired. Villa Park's Ralph Valle set up the chance with a 60-yard reception to the Edison 26.
"We didn't play championship football," Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich said. "I'm just upset that we didn't play better. It's a respectful loss but we could have played better. ... I think we got rattled a little bit in certain positions and we just really never got in a groove."
Edison also beat Villa Park, 27-7, in a nonleague game earlier in the season.