With the preseason now behind them, five local high school football squads start on equal footing as both the Sunset and Golden West league races get underway this week. In Sunset play Thursday, Edison begins its title defense by hosting Newport Harbor and Marina travels to Long Beach to battle Los Alamitos. On Friday, rivals Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley go up against each other. Ocean View will launch its Golden West League season Saturday with a road game against Santa Ana.

"We're looking forward to league play," Edison Coach Dave White said. "I think our league has a lot of parity and on any given night, one team is capable of beating another. It's going to be a tough five-game stretch. Now is when it counts for everybody."

Brethren Christian is still in nonleague mode, as the Warriors host Fairmont Prep of Anaheim on Friday.

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Thursday

Newport Harbor (2-3) vs. Edison (4-1), 7 p.m., Huntington Beach High: The gauntlet continues for Edison as the Chargers take on a Newport Harbor team that has played well in the past month.

Edison, tied with Tustin for the No. 1 spot in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll, bounced back impressively from a loss two weeks ago to Mater Dei to manhandle host San Clemente, 31-3. Once again, the Chargers defense — which hasn't allowed a touchdown in six quarters — turned in a dominating performance. Senior linebacker Elijah Herrera scored on a 51-yard fumble return in the second quarter to put the Chargers up, 21-0.

Senior wide receiver Trevor Borkowski scored on a 65-yard pass from senior quarterback Aleksander Torgersen to open the scoring in the first quarter. Torgersen also scored on a three-yard run in the second quarter, senior running back Marquis Ross had a 33-yard TD run in the third quarter and Hunter Kelley kicked a 24-yard field goal to close out the scoring.

"Our defense played great, once again, and it probably was the most complete game our offense has played this season," White said. "We took some strides (offensively) last week, and it's a good way to be heading into league."

Newport Harbor, ranked No. 8 in last week's Southwest Division poll, fell out of the rankings after a 26-14 loss Friday at Mira Costa (No. 5, Northern Division). The Sailors were on a two-game win streak heading into the game, having knocked off Back Bay rival Corona del Mar (No. 3, Southern Division) and San Clemente (then-No. 8, Pac-5 Division) the week before Edison took down the Tritons.

Newport held a 7-3 halftime lead on Mira Costa. Sophomore quarterback Cole Norris threw for 178 yards and a touchdown and running back Tala Teaupa rushed for 77 yards and a TD in the loss.

The Sailors' other two losses were to Trabuco Hills (4-2) and undefeated Loyola (6-0).

"They've played a tough schedule, too," White said. "They are a very disciplined team and are good at the run. There's a lot of respect between the two programs."

The teams have meet six times since 2006 in league play, with Edison winning all six meetings.

Marina (3-2) vs. Los Alamitos (4-1), 7 p.m., Veterans Stadium: Marina has had two weeks to prepare for its Sunset League opener against Los Alamitos.

The Vikings have already surpassed last year's win total (1-8-1) by two games. Of their two losses, one is to an undefeated San Juan Hills team.

"We have gotten better in all phases of the game," Marina Coach George Pascoe said. "When we don't beat ourselves, we play pretty good football."

Pascoe sees Los Alamitos as a Sunset contender.

"They have really good team speed," he said of the Griffins. "Their quarterback (Cody Marshall) is getting better and they seem to be able to run the ball."

Los Al, ranked third in the Southwest Division, is peaking at the right time. The Griffins struggled in the first two weeks of the season but bring a three-game win streak into Thursday's game. They wrapped up nonleague play last week with a 42-7 romp past Damien.