Selfless teamwork was the superpower behind Edendale Middle School’s flag football 2022-23 league title and 11-0 record, say coaches.
And it didn’t come easy, notwithstanding the team’s first-ever unbeaten season and impressive March 9 championship victory over Cesar Chavez Middle School, 22-12. They compete in the Southern Alameda County Middle Athletic League (SACMAL), along with Bohannon (3-7) and Washington Manor (4-6), which are also in the San Lorenzo Unified School District.
“We all pulled together,” said Edendale’s six-year Head Coach Anthony Wadley, who is a full-time campus safety officer at the school. “I noticed the camaraderie with the boys – even the eighth-graders with the sixth-graders. Everybody’s close now; they pulled together.”
The Rockets beat their Hayward opponent under the stadium lights at Chabot College, playing before a cluster of diehard family fans amid the blowing downpours of an atmospheric river. Two days before, they shut down Canyon Middle School from Castro Valley, 20-0, on the Edendale field.
This was the Rockets’ first SACMAL championship since 2017-18. They came close last year with a 6-4 record but lost in the semifinals.
Edendale scored on the very first play, a 65-yard run by team-leading quarterback Nate Bynum. They went up 8-0 on a successful point-after run. Bynum scored a second rushing touchdown on the Rockets’ second possession, and he also had a long sideline dash for a third score late in the contest.
The Cheetahs rebounded in the second half, gaining two quick scores on the ground, but the Edendale defense thwarted both extra points to preserve a 14-12 lead. Edendale’s third TD, plus another extra-point run, completed the winning margin.
Wadley said that in addition to Bynum, offensive standouts for Edendale included seventh-grader Cedric Whitaker, a backup QB and receiver, eighth-grade running back Lamar Ellis and eighth-grade receiver Mekhi Anderson. On defense, top performers included seventh-grade linemen Mekhi Rivers and Valentine Kioa.
Assistant Coach Trevor Davis, in his first year of coaching football at Edendale, echoed Wadley’s observation about how the Rockets came together over the course of a season. Davis, who teaches English language arts and English language development, hailed the Rockets’ unselfish commitment.
“They didn’t care for the most part who got the glory,” he said. “They took as much pride in blocking as they did in scoring touchdowns. When you put elite athletes together on the field and they play together – and they play for one another – great things happen.”