The storyline is unchanged for Edison High football:
First, extraordinary talent: Promising quarterback A.J. Greely; the state's only preseason All-State running back tandem in Blake Wright and Kevin Nutt; 6-foot-4 wide receiver Tyrone Smith; imposing linemen Yasmon Haynes and Brandon Wright. And on and on.
Second, new coach: Matt Johnson is the program's fourth in as many years.
He expects the pattern of talent to continue; the pattern of instability at the top to change.
Johnson and anyone else associated with the Tigers' program say the tradition of athletic excellence only stands to improve long range with the opening of Gaston Middle School in 2014.
Being constructed a half-mile southeast of the high school on land that used to house Carver Elementary, it will be the first intermediate feeder within Edison's boundaries, allowing its coaches to better identify, groom and preserve neighborhood athletes at a younger age.
Johnson not only looks forward to the program's future, insisting he will lead it: "I'm committed to be here until the day I die, basically."
A month from his 50th birthday, the former Edison eight-year assistant under Tim McDonald made a bold statement by recently resigning as director of operations for the McDonald-owned World Sports Cafe in River Park.
"I received my last paycheck Friday," says Johnson, who had partnered with ex-USC teammate McDonald since the restaurant opened in 1998.
Johnson, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in public administration from USC, is working on obtaining his teacher's credential.
Meanwhile, he has passed his CBEST exam, allowing him to substitute teach on a regular basis at Edison.
"I've demonstrated I'm going to be on campus 100% of the time," he said Monday before practice in his black and gold Tigers football visor and T-shirt. "I'm leaving my business, and that pretty much spoke volumes to the parents and kids.
"I'm at the point-of-life age where I ask, 'what's going to be the last job of my career,' and this is it. On one end, it's very scary; on the other end, what an adventure. But this is what I'm meant to do; this is what drives me every morning."
Yet, the bottom-line challenge: "Trust," he says, "building the trust, that what I say is not just lip service. Hey, it's been a crazy run here the last four or five years."
Specifically, among head coaches, it's gone from McDonald to Jim O'Brien to McDonald to Ricky Manning and now to Johnson.
Yet the Tigers' tradition of success has sustained itself virtually throughout, featuring 10-4 (2009, Division II title), 10-2 ('11) and 9-4 ('12) seasons.
And, again, much is expected from The Bee's No. 6-ranked team in the preseason.
Johnson's not sandbagging: "Taking over a high-profile program like Edison, they did me a lot of favors with the material I have to work with."
The foundation begins with Wright and Nutt, both of whom have orally committed to Nevada.
"Some colleges noticed us, some didn't," Wright says. "And for those who didn't, they're going to wish they got us at the same time."
Wright stops just short of predicting a D-I title game appearance for a school edged 37-34 by eventual champion Clovis North in last year's semifinals: "I don't want to say we'll get to Valley; I don't want to say it too early, but we'll fight for it. We've got the talent to do a lot of things."
Greely, replacing one of Edison's all-time great quarterbacks in three-year starter Khari McGee, is an intriguing prospect.
He's a 5-11, 185-pound junior already offered a scholarship by Arizona State as a cornerback, which he played last year.
"When I got here," Johnson says, "I asked him to play catch, he threw a few and I said, 'Whoa.' He's a tremendous multi-tooled quarterback with the tool set to fit into our system nicely."
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