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PREP FOOTBALL 2000

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Explosive Tailback Is Stirring Up Memories of 1979 at Edison

September 01, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

All the buzz around Edison High isn't coming from the powerlines that span the campus. An amped up football team has its followers crackling with anticipation--and great expectations--over the start of the football season.

More than two decades after a whirling dervish of a runner powered the Chargers to their first of three Southern Section titles in six seasons, another tailback is energizing Edison's championship hopes.

Darryl Poston has sprinter's speed and electrifying moves, a combination that helped him rush for 1,701 yards and score a school-record 29 touchdowns as a junior last year, the best season for a Charger runner since Kerwin Bell gained 2,268 yards in 1979.

"There's no doubt in my mind he's the second-best running back we've ever had," Edison Coach Dave White said.

White should know. He's seen practically every Edison game since the school opened in 1969--save for the three years he was playing quarterback for Oregon State.

Bell, however, is still No. 1 on White's list. For now.

"If he can up the ante," White said of Poston, "he might go down in the same breath as Kerwin Bell."

Statistically, they already compare. Poston averaged 170 yards per game last season, slightly better than the 162 yards Bell averaged in 14 games during the 1979 season. Bell needed only 13 carries a game, however, compared to Poston's 23. And there was one other notable difference.

Bell's team was 12-2 and defeated Redlands, 55-0, in the Southern Section Big Five championship game. Poston's team went 7-3--but only 2-3 for a fourth-place finish in the Sunset League--and missed the playoffs.

"Hopefully, we'll play 14 games," said Poston, who is considering USC, California, UCLA, Washington State and Michigan State as his college options. "To get to that point, we have to step it up a couple of levels. Every game, we're going to have to get better."

The 1979 Edison team led by Bell not only won a Southern Section title, it also started what became a county-record 32-game winning streak.

The Chargers were Sunset League champions from 1978-82, and also in 1985. Edison was Southern Section champion in 1979, '80 and '85, when the Chargers shared the title with a Long Beach Poly team that featured such future NFL stars as Mark Carrier and Leonard Russell.

Drought Conditions

But Edison's winning tradition has worn out of late. The Chargers haven't won a league championship since 1990 and haven't been to the playoffs since 1995.

That is one reason White hesitates to compare Poston to Bell or this year's team to the 1979 squad.

"This team has the potential to be that exciting, but part of the ultimate excitement is winning the big game at the end," White said. "We haven't done that lately. We've been down to the wire, and given up the fourth-and-25 [against Fountain Valley in 1996] or given up the last-minute field goal [against Los Alamitos in 1997]. . . . The ultimate excitement is to win the big game."

Edison's 1997 team lost close games to Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley and missed the playoffs. Last year, the Chargers were ranked as high as No. 2 in Orange County before opening up Sunset League play with consecutive losses against Marina and Los Alamitos.

"It's been pretty frustrating," White said. "It's eating at me . . . "

But so it goes in the highly competitive Sunset League.

"You put a good game together and nobody gets injured, if everything goes right, Edison has [a winning] formula," said Tony Ciarelli, an Edison assistant from 1981-89 who is now head coach at Huntington Beach. "But they have to get through the Sunset League first."

Los Alamitos or Esperanza has won at least a share of the league title since joining the Sunset in 1994.

To prepare for those two powers this season, Edison has beefed up its nonleague schedule to include Mater Dei, Servite and three South Coast League teams. It's a lineup that won't provide any illusions.

"Two of the last three years we've gone 5-0 in preseason and haven't made the playoffs. That wasn't working," White said. "No one can accuse us of playing a soft schedule."

To challenge for a championship, the Chargers will have to play better than they did last year, when they allowed an average of 31 points per game.

Certainly the Chargers should once again have a high-voltage offense.

Along with Poston, Edison will feature quarterback Richard Schwartz, another player who has longtime Charger followers harkening back to 1979.

Edison's quarterback that year was Frank Seurer. Big, strong and with a cannon arm, Seurer passed for a county-record 2,063 yards.

Schwartz is 6 feet 3, 195 pounds, has good footwork and can throw the ball about 70 yards.

"He had a good year last year, and he has improved a lot," White said. "We've got three or four guys who can catch the ball and make something happen. He's going to have an even better year."

Schwartz completed 51.9% of his passes last season for 1,933 yards with 15 touchdowns and had 10 intercepted.

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