Turns out the only title Edison Coaches Dave Tallman and Matt Mosiello cared about this season was the one the Chargers won at Dodger Stadium.
That was a good thing, because the men could have easily wasted precious time squabbling about who was really in charge of the program after a controversial hiring process tabbed Tallman as head coach and Mosiello his assistant.
Instead, they channeled their energies into winning the school's first Southern Section baseball championship with a light-hitting team that relied on pitching, speed and defense.
Tallman and Mosiello, The Times' Orange County Coaches of the Year, did it by instilling in their players a philosophy that demanded rigorous off-season workouts and an unyielding belief in one's abilities.
The Chargers started practice on the second day of school and never slowed down, even when rain pushed the team into the gym to work on bunting and other finer points of the game.
"At the end of practice, all the coaches would sit us down and say, 'Nine out of 10 teams are watching "The Simpsons" while we just got two quality hours of work done,' " pitcher Jeff Gilmore said.
But things didn't immediately click when the season started. Edison lost its first two games and was only 6-5-1 in early April. Still, observers noticed a difference.
"Fundamentally, they were a lot sounder than they've been in years past," said Fountain Valley Coach Ron LaRuffa. "I think it's a combination of playing good baseball and kids buying into a philosophy of play. That's a credit to the coaching staff."
The turning point came during spring break, when the Chargers won the West Coast Invitational in San Jose, igniting a 15-3 run the rest of the season. Edison defeated Riverside Poly, 5-0, in the Division II championship game thanks to David Huff's two-hitter.
But it was the coaching that set the stage for the players' success. Pitching coach Steve Lambright, a former Cal State Fullerton assistant, was another big part of Edison's winning formula.
"The three of us really worked well together," said Tallman, who took over this season after 29 years as an Edison assistant. "We discussed everything, all had input. It wasn't a one-man show."
The level of collaboration among the coaches was amazing considering the potential divisiveness of the process that brought them together. Edison officials wanted to hire Mosiello, then a Cerritos College assistant, last year to replace Tom Duggan, but a district rule compelled them to hire Tallman, who was already teaching and coaching inside the district.
Tallman said he really didn't want the job because he desired the flexibility that came with being an assistant.
His dilemma could be solved next year if Mosiello takes an anticipated teaching position at the school and becomes head coach.
"It doesn't matter who gets the credit as long people know that we win and do things right," Mosiello said.
Said Tallman: "I just love being on the field, throwing batting practice to the kids. That's all that matters to me. I don't need the title."