For those who thought Huntington Beach Edison was a mere passing-league power, take notice. The Chargers inflicted so many tattoos on hard hits against Anaheim Servite on Friday night at Huntington Beach High that the Friars are going to need buckets of ice to recover.
"They kicked our butts," Servite Coach Troy Thomas said.
Edison's 23-9 victory over Servite, ranked No. 2 by The Times, ought to put to rest any doubts about the No. 6 Chargers, who were unbeatable last summer in seven-on-seven passing competitions but untested with pads on.
Let's just say their fourth consecutive victory this season will silence the skeptics. The defense didn't give up an offensive touchdown, and they got their inspiration from Stanford-bound linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, who played despite a broken bone near in his left ring finger that required his hand to be covered with a protective cast.
"He helped so much," defensive back Dylan Leener said. "We needed him in this big game."
Said Zumwalt: "I just played. It was difficult, but I'm glad. No regrets."
Servite (3-1) held a 6-3 halftime lead on the strength of a blocked field goal by Kirifi Leuta-Taula that was turned into a 52-yard touchdown return by Christopher Nicholls.
But Edison made several halftime adjustments, and the Chargers took the lead for good on their opening possession of the third quarter, driving 80 yards, with Wade Houston scoring on a two-yard run.
Houston rushed for 105 yards. Quarterback Matt Viles, who wasn't sacked in the game, completed 20 of 32 passes for 226 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Trojan with 5:28 left that clinched the victory.
"Our kids played their hearts out," Edison Coach Dave White said. "To me, this is a great win."
From the opening moments, when Steve Malone made a crunching tackle, to the second half, when Shaun McLaughlin was like a brick wall taking down a Servite ballcarrier on a kickoff return, the Chargers tackled with authority and purpose. The longest play from scrimmage for Servite was a 26-yard run by quarterback Cody Fajardo.
White is so happy for his group of seniors, and deservedly so. They had to endure not making the Pac-5 Division playoffs last season even though they tied for first place in the Sunset League. The Chargers were either unlucky or cursed. As part of a five-way tie, they lost out on a coin flip and a drawing from a hat.
But they don't have much time to celebrate. Next on the schedule is a Thursday night game against Santa Ana Mater Dei at Santa Ana Bowl. Then comes Sunset League play, and look who's waiting for them: Los Alamitos (3-0), Fountain Valley (4-0), Newport Harbor (3-0) and Anaheim Esperanza (2-1).
But all this intrigue and competition is creating excitement and bringing out fans in large numbers. Edison sold out its allotment of 3,500 tickets for Friday's game early in the week. Servite's 2,000 tickets were snapped up too.
And everyone learned that Edison is for real.