It's not all that difficult to understand why the efforts of Edison linebacker Steven Beach and his defensive teammates have gone largely unnoticed this fall. After all, the Eagles boast an offense that averages over 40 points per game, features a pair of dominating running backs and a vastly improved passing attack.
Yesterday afternoon, Beach and his cohorts got their best opportunity to show that they deserved equal fanfare, as Edison faced its stiffest challenge yet in Yorktown -- a team that had averaged 321 rushing yards in its first six games. And the defense did just that, holding Yorktown to half its usual rushing total and forcing two turnovers in a key, 38-20 Virginia AAA National District victory.
"People read their keys, stayed home and played with enthusiasm the whole game," said Beach, who has helped Edison limit opponents to less than nine points per game. "We deserve a lot of credit. People talk about our offense all the time, but our defense gets it done."
Going into the game, Edison (7-0, 4-0) knew it would face a stiff challenge from the Patriots (5-2, 2-2) and their trio of capable runners: tailbacks Max Milien and Steven Smith and quarterback Kerby Long. The group entered the game with more than 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns combined, but they were held in check by a swarming Eagles defense, accumulating 100 yards between them.
Edison's defense set the tone on the game's opening drive, twice stopping the Patriots behind the line of scrimmage and forcing a punt that would lead to Edison's first touchdown.
"What worried us was that we hadn't played a good running offense yet," Edison Coach Vaughn Lewis said. "We really stressed being disciplined [and] staying home, and we knew if we could do that we'd be okay."
With the defense doing its job, the offense had no problem maintaining the consistent form that it has displayed all season. Playing without running back Devan Clark, who had injured his left foot, the Eagles leaned on fullback Keone Kyle, who responded with 23 carries for 132 yards, including a two-yard touchdown surge early in the second quarter that put Edison ahead 14-0. Justin Brock filled in at tailback, running 10 times for 140 yards and two scores.
Ahead by only seven points, Edison used Kyle and Brock to wear out the Patriots in the third quarter. Yorktown ran only eight offensive plays in the period while the Eagles built on their advantage, extending their lead to 31-7 by the end of the quarter.
"We're one of the most complete teams I've had at Edison," Lewis said. "On offense we can run the ball and pass the ball, and on defense we can play the run and we can play the pass. We're a complete team right now."