It was a dream team.
Running back Kerwin Bell was the dominant player in the Southern Section. Quarterback Frank Seurer threw 23 touchdown passes.
Tight end Mark Boyer caught 49 passes. Linebacker Bill Malavasi anchored a defense that allowed an average of 8.6 points per game.
Edison High School romped through the Big Five Conference playoffs, outscoring four opponents, 142-29. The finale was a 55-0 rout of Redlands in the title game, the most lopsided score in large-school championship game history.
Edison was the class of Orange County high school football in 1979 and, for that matter, the class of county football over the past 20 years.
During that span, the Orange County edition of The Times has extensively covered high school football. For the sake of a good memory, The Times has picked its top 10 teams of the past 2 decades. Edison '79 is No. 1. Here's a look at the events that shaped some of those teams.
Bell rushed for 2,268 yards and 26 touchdowns after transferring from St. Francis in La Canada for his senior season. His speed and power supplied the electricity in the 1979 Edison offense.
"He was the most dominating player in the CIF that year," said Coach Mike Milner of rival Fountain Valley. "Then, you combine him with Frank Seurer and nobody could touch them once they got to the playoffs."
Edison did lose to El Modena and Newport Harbor that season, but Coach Bill Workman, now at Orange Coast College, said the team began to peak as it entered the playoffs.
"At the beginning of the season, we had the star players, but they weren't pulling on the end of the rope at the same time," he said. "By the time the playoffs started, it was a team on a mission."
Workman said the biggest obstacle his 1979 team faced en route to the championship was Fontana in the semifinals. Fontana had allowed only 20 points in 12 games and its defense was further fueled by comments made by then-Ram Coach Ray Malavasi in a local newspaper. Malavasi's son, Bill, was a standout player for Edison.
"One of the reporters out there called Ray and asked him how he thought Edison would do against Fontana," Workman said. "Ray told him, 'They'll beat Fontana, and Kerwin Bell will rush for 200 yards.' "
But Bell had injured his ribs, knee and elbow the previous week against Servite. He didn't suit up that week for practice and couldn't finish his warmup routine on game night.
Just before the opening kickoff, Bell told Workman, "I can't return the kickoff, but I'll be ready for the first series."
Workman feared the worst. But on the first play from scrimmage, Bell broke for a 79-yard touchdown run. He retired midway through the third quarter with 217 yards in a 34-14 victory.
"To this day, I still don't know how he played that night," Workman said.
A dynasty began at Edison in 1979 that may never be equaled in the county. The Chargers won 32 consecutive games during the reign. The Times ranked the 1980 team No. 4, the '81 team No. 9.
Workman's 1980 team won 14 consecutive games and another Big Five Conference title. Two memorable games against Fountain Valley in Anaheim Stadium drew a total of almost 50,000 fans.
Scott Strosnider, now Edison's line coach, was a starting center on the 1979 and 1980 teams. He said an identity crisis was a prime motivator in 1980.
"We had players like Dino Bell and Troy Seurer who had played in the shadows of their older brothers, and they were determined to make a name for themselves," he said. "The record shows that this was the only undefeated team in the school's history."
Edison's closest call was a 15-14 victory over Fountain Valley in Sunset League play. The Chargers trailed, 14-0, going into the final quarter but rallied for 2 touchdowns and then scored on a 2-point conversion run by quarterback Ken Major to win the game.
"The team's character showed in that game," Workman said. "It was a game we probably shouldn't have won. In the eyes of most, we lost that first game.
"When we played again for the championship, I thought we had something to prove because most thought we should have lost that first game."
Edison won, 14-0.
Edison entered the 1981 season ranked No. 1 in the nation by several publications. The Chargers' winning streak grew to 32 when it entered the playoffs as the top-seeded team, having outscored its opponents, 357-98.
Edison drew a wild-card entry, Servite, in the first round and figured to win easily. A banner hanging from the stands in Orange Coast College's LeBard Stadium read: "Edison lose? Let's get serious."
And Servite did. Brian Salerno returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Doug Butler threw a 60-yard touchdown pass, and Servite scored one of the biggest upsets in county history, 14-7.
The county's longest winning streak was over.
"Man for man, they shouldn't have beaten us, but I also knew our mental attitude going into the game," Workman said. "We were way overconfident."
Today, Workman rates his 1981 team as his best.