BATAVIA – Josh Costello's two sacks against Thornwood in Batavia's 49-8 first-round win last week could be perceived as a nice stat booster.
For the senior defensive end, it's just part of meeting coaches' expectations of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"Even in games where I haven’t had many sacks, I’ve been able to disrupt the quarterback in the pocket and cause some incompletions," Costello said. "Additionally, I have had some forced fumbles when quarterbacks have scrambled."
Costello, a first-year varsity starter, has a team-high 7.5 sacks through 10 games. That's four more than outside linebacker Quinn Urwiler, second on Batavia. Costello also is tied with 13 hurries alongside Reilly Corken and Matt Weerts.
"Josh has gained a ton of confidence throughout the season," junior linebacker Matt Weerts said. "He keeps getting better and better as the weeks go on and has emerged into a senior leader on our team."
Costello played linebacker his first two seasons before transitioning to defensive end as a junior last year.
"At the start of my junior season, I talked to [defensive coordinator Matt] Holm about switching to defensive end. Even as a linebacker, I was mostly used as a pass rusher," Costello said. "And I believe this skill has transitioned nicely into my new position."
One area the 6-foot-4 Costello believes his game has improved the most this season is his run-stopping ability.
"After putting on some weight in the offseason [15 pounds], I’ve been able to take on more double teams andfill gaps, allowing our linebackers to make plays," Costello said. "I’ve also been able to pursue running backs in the backfield from the backside and make some tackles for loss."
Costello has 31 tackles, four for losses, this season.
"One of Josh’s best assets is length and speed and he never gives up," Weerts said. "He gets after quarterbacks and holds his gap on run plays, which allows linebackers to make plays."
"Over this offseason, [defensive back] Sam Barus really helped encourage me to stay in the weight room in order to get ready for the season," Costello said. "However, I believe that all of the returning players on the defense really support one another and that bond helped push my game to the next level."
As a senior, Costello "has really come to appreciate the phrase "one more week."
"This team has a great overall bond," Costello said. "I’ve been playing tackle football with a lot of these guys since I was in fourth grade. We are hoping to be able to stay together for as long as possible."
Baffa filling in nicely for St. Francis
St. Francis senior quarterback Mike Baffa didn't get any reps at quarterback during summer camp, but that hasn't stopped him this season.
Baffa has started the past two weeks in place of usual starter Tommy Rittenhouse after Rittenhouse suffered an injury to his left, non-throwing arm during the Spartans 20-19 victory over IC Catholic on Oct. 18.
Baffa came on in relief. This season, he's completed 13 of 23 passes for 255 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
"With someone like Tommy playing in front of you every Friday, it isn’t hard to understand what’s going on," Baffa said. "He does all the correct things, which makes getting in the swing of things a lot easier. Plus, I’ve been in the offense for two years now, and with our coaches, they got me prepared the best I can."
St. Francis' second-round playoff game against Genoa-Kingston at 1 p.m. Nov. 9 is being played at Naperville North High School and not Wheaton College.