It's no shock that Edison High has had Newport Harbor High's number in Sunset League play. You have to go back 34 years for the Sailors' last win against the Chargers.
How Edison continued its dominance against Newport Harbor surprised the Sailors on Friday.
They expected a different quarterback to run around and a different running back to carry the load. None of that happened as the Sailors fell yet again to Edison, losing at home, 28-16.
The Chargers, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll, mixed up its ground game. They allowed quarterback Christian Heffelman, not Matthew Gane, to attack the defense. They went with Tyler Warren at tailback, not Marcus Swanigan.
"They changed it up a little bit," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said.
Despite the moves, Brinkley's Sailors led twice, 13-7 in the second quarter and 16-14 in the third quarter. But each time Edison erased the deficits.
The second time they lost the lead, coming after Michael Schultz' third successful field goal, the Sailors really got burned. A broken-down pass play midway through the third quarter torched Newport Harbor. The defense forced Heffelman to scramble to his right, and it appeared he had no one to throw to, until Jeremy Maxwell found an opening near the 45-yard line.
Heffelman threw it to Maxwell, who then sped past defenders to complete a 75-yard touchdown pass. The Chargers took a 21-16 lead and never looked back.
"That was a big play," said Edison Coach Dave White, who only needed Heffelman to complete three of five passes for 83 yards in the game. "Jeremy Maxwell, he's the fastest kid in our school, so he was a good one to throw to deep."
The Chargers tacked on another touchdown in the third quarter. Heffelman scored from 12 yards out, giving him his second rushing touchdown and putting the game away.
With his legs, Heffelman helped the Chargers (5-2, 2-0 in league) remain in a first-place tie in league with rival Fountain Valley. Heffelman rushed 19 times for 87 yards, career bests in both categories. The senior went into the evening with 13 carries for 11 yards.
He wasn't the only Charger with a career night. Warren rushed 21 times for 157 yards, including a touchdown.
All week, the Sailors expected to see the return of Swanigan, the Chargers' leading rusher going into the game. In practice, Brinkley said they used someone who resembled Swanigan, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound athletic senior.
The look from the scout team didn't make a difference for Newport Harbor (3-4, 1-1). Swanigan showed up in street clothes. The Chargers played their third straight game without Swanigan because of a shoulder injury and they won for the third straight time.
Only two teams have been able to knock off Edison this year, Servite and Mater Dei, and they went into the week ranked seventh and third, respectively, in the robust Pac-5 Division. The Chargers turned away the No. 6-ranked team in the Southwest Division.
Edison won its 12 straight league contest and it has prevailed in 21 of its last 22 league games. The team is the hands-down favorite to claim league.
The defending league champion Chargers went right at the Sailors. On the game's opening drive, they marched 69 yards on eight plays, all runs, to take a 7-0 lead. Heffelman, out of shotgun, rushed for a 16-yard touchdown. And he isn't even the Chargers' running quarterback.
Brinkley's Sailors were well aware of Edison's two-quarterback system. Before the game, he marveled at the 6-1, 220-pound size of Gane, Edison's other quarterback. The one gaining the yards was Heffelman, who carried the ball four times for 43 yards on the first drive.
The Chargers pounded the ball in the first half, totaling 135 yards on 19 carries. In the first two quarters, they only passed three times, completing one for eight yards.
The Sailors figured out Edison's offensive play calling. They forced two punts in the second quarter, allowing the Sailors to cut the lead to one after Schultz converted a 38-yard field goal, his second successful try in the first half.