It looks like the third time might be the charm for head coach Rich Clayton and the Edison’s boys’ lacrosse team. After missing the playoffs in Clayton’s first two years as the Chargers’ head coach, this is looking like the year that Edison might make the playoffs. With two weeks and several big games remaining in the season, the Chargers (3-0, 9-3) are currently in first place in the Sunset League and were ranked No. 12 in the most recent coaches’ poll.
“We have seniors that have been playing with each other for a while. I’ve actually coached a bunch of these kids since eighth grade, and I knew they were going to be good. There’s a good core on this group,” Clayton said.
Clayton first came to Edison in 2015 when then-coach Robert Prieto left. Clayton heard about the position when he was Huntington Beach’s boys’ lacrosse frosh/soph coach.
“I knew the position was open and heard really really good things about athletics here at Edison. I knew that this would be good school to come to and I knew it would be nice to help its infancy,” Clayton said.
During his first year with Edison, Clayton remembers the first game he scheduled for the Chargers, a home match against Orange County juggernaut Corona Del Mar. The Chargers wound up losing that game 15-1. Edison finished 5-13 overall and 2-6 in the five-team Sunset League that year, good enough for fourth place.
“I wanted to set the bar high,” Clayton said when asked about scheduling CdM as Edison’s first game of the year in 2015. “I wanted these boys to know we want to be competing with the best.”
Last season, Edison went 7-9 overall and 2-6 in the Sunset League, tied for last place with Huntington Beach in the Sunset League. Clayton said that his first two years as head coach were good years despite the Chargers’ record.
“Even though the records may not have been good, I feel like we still had a good team. They were good growing years for us,” Clayton said.
This season, Clayton has the Chargers at 9-3 overall. The nine wins are the most Edison has had in program history as a CIF sanctioned program.
Edison is also 3-0 in league, which is the most league wins its had since joining the Sunset League in 2014. One of those league wins came against reigning Sunset League champion Newport Harbor, where the Chargers beat the Sailors at home 7-5. Clayton said the win over Newport Harbor is the biggest win of the year so far.
Clayton has also earned praise from the other Sunset League coaches. Huntington Beach coach Ryan Kelaher said that Clayton has done a great job coaching at Edison.
“To watch what he’s done over the last three or four years since Edison has become a program is really something to watch,” Kelaher said.
Newport Harbor boys’ lacrosse coach Mark Todd also said that Clayton has done a great job coaching at Edison, and is a “wonderful guy.” Marina coach Nick Dallas said that Clayton runs an excellent program.
Clayton first got into lacrosse when he was a freshman in high school at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore. Clayton’s role model growing up was one of his best friend’s Johnny Waller, who introduced him to lacrosse and inspired him about lacrosse.
Clayton credited the amazing gameplay of his players, especially the seniors and said that the turning point of this season was when Edison was tied 3-3 at halftime with CdM, despite losing that game 13-5.
“Our goalie play has been phenomenal, Nick Nguyen at faceoff is just a beast, Connor [Greif] has been putting in a ton of goals as usual, and Tommy West with the d-pole he’s just a different player and it makes our team real special having a guy like him who can come down on our man up also and score,” Clayton said.
Edison has a big road match against Los Alamitos today at 4 p.m., which may have league title implications. A win for Edison would boost its chances of becoming Sunset League champions.