What is potentially the high school football game of the year featuring defending national champ and current USA Today No. 1 ranked St. John Bosco (3-0) and No. 2 ranked Bishop Gorman (4-0) is just a week away. But first the Gaels must overcome one very big potential stumbling block.
Undefeated Santa Margarita (3-0) and strong-armed junior quarterback K.J. Costello.
While St. John Bosco takes the week off, Bishop Gorman hosts the Eagles tonight at 7 p.m. at Fertitta Field. And the Gaels know very well how tough the Costello-led Eagles are.
Bishop Gorman narrowly escaped Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., with a wild 34-31 double overtime win last year when Costello threw for 439 yards and four touchdowns and star wide receiver Kyle Sweet caught 14 passes for a school-record 300 receiving yards.
“I’m just happy to get out of here alive,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said afterward.
The Gaels won it in the second overtime on a 28-yard field goal by Ahmed Ramiz after blowing a 10-point lead in the final 6:25 of regulation. Santa Margarita kicker Alex Ury missed a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first overtime just one play the Eagles had stormed the field to celebrate when it appeared Grant Clancy had caught a game-winning pass in the end zone. An official close to the play signaled touchdown but a side judge on the far side of the field ruled Clancy never had full control before fumbling out of the end zone. After huddling for a few seconds, officials ruled Clancy never had full possession.
Ury then missed a 37-yard field goal try at the start of the second overtime to set the stage for Ramiz’s game-winner. Bishop Gorman had looked like a goner when they started the first overtime with a botched field goal try after a bobbled snap.
I lived in Mission Viejo and did the Best in the West for the Long Beach Press-Telegram back in the 90’s when a fellow named Carson Palmer was quarterbacking the Eagles. I left after last year’s 3½ hour game thinking that Costello might be as good, if not better, at the same stage as the future USC Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Costello was firing 30-yard lasers on a dime all night. Considering that was just his second game of his sophomore year, it was eye-opening to say the least.
Longtime recruiting Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network’s Lemming Report lists Costello as the No. 1 pro-style QB prospect in talent-rich California for the Class of 2016. I’m not sure there’s a better one in the country right now … unless it’s St. John Bosco’s UCLA-bound Josh Rosen, whom Lemming rates as the No. 1 player in the nation overall for the Class of 2015.
Bosco coach Jason Negro is in town – he’ll be appearing on Tony Cordasco’s radio show on ESPN 1100 tonight at 6 p.m. from the Weiner’s Circle at the Red Rock Casino Resort – to scout both teams.
Costello has completed 74-of-111 passes for 1,030 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions in three games so far this season. The Eagles, like Bishop Gorman, have played a difficult schedule, opening with a 26-21 win over Bishop Amat, then whipping Corona Santiago and Alabama-bound quarterback Blake Barnett, 56-27, before defeating perennial L.A. City heavyweight Dorsey, 21-10, last week.
Sweet is a Matt Miller-like wide receiver who is receiving attention from Pac-12 and Mountain West schools. He has 30 catches for 444 yards and two touchdowns so far this season and will go against a Gorman secondary led by Notre Dame-bound safety Nicco Fertitta, arguably the hard-hitting defensive back in the country.
Check back late tonight at MyLVsports.com for Barry Wong video highlights, photos and a game story on tonight’s Bishop Gorman-Santa Margarita contest.