It’s the year of the quarterback in Southern California high school football, and junior KJ Costello of Santa Margarita turned in a performance that explains why UCLA, USC and Stanford have already made scholarship offers.
He picked apart the Corona Santiago secondary Friday night, completing 25 of 34 passes for 411 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-27 victory over Corona Santiago.
“You can see our offensive line dominated the whole game,” Costello said. “When you can run the ball, it opens the passing game.”
At 6 feet 5, 215 pounds, he’s so much improved in a year’s time physically and mentally that comparisons to last season’s version are like night and day. He completed 11 consecutive passes in the first half while confidently looking for and spotting openings in the Santiago defense. New offensive coordinator Jeff Grady has made a big difference.
The Eagles (2-0) pretty much did whatever they wanted in setting a school record with 618 yards in total offense. The first time they were in punt formation late in the third quarter, Kyle Sweet ran 29 yards for a first down. Matt Mark ran for three touchdowns.
It was a long night for Alabama-bound quarterback Blake Barnett of Santiago (1-1). He was 17 of 37 for 158 yards and one touchdown. Mason Hale ran for three TDs
The first half was one to remember for Costello, who took advantage of good pass protection and open receivers to complete 17 of 22 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns to build a 35-13 lead. Except for one overthrown pass that resulted in an interception, Costello was near perfect.
Whether throwing deep or getting rid of the ball quickly, he was in complete control. He had TD throws of 62 yards to Sweet, 24 and 15 yards to Connor Bianchini and 42 yards to Jerome Bohuslavizki.
Barnett was 11 of 22 for 69 first-half yards. His receivers had a difficult time getting open. Barnett tried to take pressure off the passing game with 60 yards rushing in the first half.
With wins over La Puente Bishop Amat and Santiago the first two weeks, Santa Margarita is part of the tough Trinity League filled with outstanding quarterbacks.
On Friday, Nick Robinson of JSerra threw four touchdown passes in a victory over Chino Hills.
Josh Rosen of St. John Bosco had five TD passes in a win over Norwalk. Travis Waller of Servite ran for three TDs in a win over Corona.
Tough opponents lie ahead, but Costello is only going to get better.