Costello breaks record in season opener

Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita four-star junior quarterback K.J. Costello started the season off with a win over Bishop Amat 26-21. Costello, who will visit USC Saturday, has more completions than his team had points.

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — K.J. Costello recorded a Santa Margarita High School record for pass completions Friday night in a 26-21 win over Bishop Amat, but it didn’t really feel that way for the four-star junior quarterback.

Coming away from the hard fought win where he had 27 completions with two touchdowns and one interception of more than 300-yards passing, Costello could only talk about recovering from adversity.

“That was a big focus for me this off season,” said Costello. “Turnovers are going to happen, so you have to find a way to bounce back from them and I feel like I did a good job of that.

“Just as a young quarterback, you have to learn from your mistakes and keep going. Hats off to my quarterback coach, Coach (Jeff) Grady. He has really taught me the simplicity of the game.

“You take what the defense goes you, and when you do that, you eliminate a lot of turnovers.”

With Santa Margarita in scoring range and looking to go up two scores, a wayward pass into the end zone for Costello wasn’t what it seemed.

“We had a miscommunication on the route there,” said Costello. “I was planning on throwing to the post, but it was a post corner because we changed it at the last second. (Amat) brought edge press, so we actually have a check on that play at the line, so we weren’t on the same page.

“That was, obviously, something we’re making an emphasis on not doing. But like I said, turnovers do happen, so it’s really about gathering yourself and coming back the next series.”

While the interception was costly, Costello was able to vent some of his frustration out during the play. As the Bishop Amat returned the errant pass, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback obliterated the defenders running up the sidelines.

“I hit that guy pretty hard,” laughed Costello. “There were so many high points last year, I learned a lot. Coming back from adversity is important. You can’t just hang your head.

“Being young, I thought the game was easy, and it’s not like that all of the time. You have to be controlled and composed — that’s the biggest thing.”

On the recruiting trail, the biggest thing for Costello has been his scholarship offer from USC which came in July. As Costello put it then, it was a dream offer from the Trojans.

“I’ve had a chance to talk things over with my family a little, but obviously with the season and everything, I've been busy with my team,” said Costello. “I’m not in a rush to do anything. Obviously USC is a great school. I followed Carson Palmer growing up and he went (to Santa Margarita).

“It’s a huge opportunity, but I didn’t want to make an emotional decision when I got offered. Now I’m just focused on this season. Out of respect to my teammates, I'm not really thinking much about recruiting.”

Costello will attend Saturday’s season opener for the Trojans, while still entertaining interest from Stanford, Florida State, Michigan, Alabama and UCLA.

“It is important to see how the Trojans come out this season and how Coach (Steve) Sarkisian runs things offensively scheme wise to see if I feel like I fit,” said Costello. “I'm looking forward to watching them (Saturday). I’ve taken a lot of visits over the summer and spring touring schools, so it will be nice to just go to a game and watch football.”

"Recruiting is great because you see the campus and meet the coaches, but the decision is about football. Going to the game and seeing the environment will be special."

After the Trojans play Fresno State and home Saturday, they travel to meet Pac-12 powerhouse Stanford. The Cardinal are another team high on Costello's list of college choices.

"I don't think I'll be able to make the Stanford game, but I'll definitely be watching it," said Costello. "Stanford against SC will be a good game. Stanford has been a favorite all along, so it will be interesting to watch that game and see where we go from there."

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