Bishop falls in week zero

New-look Cardinals hang with much-larger Arroyo Grande, 21-14

ARROYO GRANDE — Bishop Diego’s record-setting offense from last season is gone, but the current contingent of Cardinals proved that the program can still hang with the big boys on Friday night.

Bishop lost a 21-14 decision to the Arroyo Grande Eagles in a game that saw what season-openers often do: turnovers, drops and even a bizarre play or two… like a 4-yard punt.

The 30-man Cardinal roster was huffing and puffing late in the game while the 60-man Eagle contingent was able to stay more fresh, and it ultimately allowed the hosts to break a 7-7 deadlock at the half and hold off the giant-killers of 2007.

“As I told the kids, you never like to lose, but when you do lose you need to learn from it,” said coach Tom Crawford. “I think our kids know that we have to execute and protect the football better. We have to be better tacklers and be in better shape then we were tonight.”

But the lessons of losing came along with a reassurance that this year’s Cardinals have what it takes to beat the bigger schools.

At one point early in the game, someone in the press box pointed out that the Cardinals had as many cheerleaders as players.

Later on, he saw that just because one team has twice as many players doesn’t mean they’re twice as good.

Bishop’s defense had to deal with a short field throughout the game, but kept an Eagle offense that was big and fast at bay for much of the evening.

Arroyo Grande’s offensive line included a 6-foot-7, 270-pounder and a 6-5, 290-pounder, and the Cardinals were still able to stop the Eagles behind the line of scrimmage on six different occasions.

The Cardinals ended the first Eagle drive by forcing a fumble and recovering, then stopped the next one when Shane McCarthy sacked Garrett Coleman on a critical 4th-and-14 play. The Cardinals, however, lost three fumbles of their own on the night.

Anthony Martinez had a good first start for Bishop, as the 5-foot-8 quarterback completed nine of 15 passes for 96 yards and a late 20-yard touchdown pass that got lost in the fog before Art Gonzalez came up with it in the end zone.

The no-huddle drive was a big step for Martinez.

“I told him afterwards ‘you just became a quarterback,'” said Crawford.

Quick-footed running back RJ Escamilla rushed 14 times for 47 yards, and scored on a one-yard run at the end of a 10-play, 60-yard opening drive for the Cardinals. Fullback McCarthy bruised his way to 43 yards on five carries, including runs of 11, 11, and 10 yards to start things off. He left grimacing in the second half, but it appeared to be only cramping in his legs.

Arroyo Grande’s first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass from Goossen to Bo Cabalar just before halftime. the Eagles made it 13-7 with a two-yard run by Ryan Hickey in the third, and a four-yard run by Christian Chricton followed by a two-point conversion ended the home team’s scoring.

Martinez’s scoring pass to Gonzalez gave the Cardinals a chance, but with 38 ticks on the clock, they couldn’t execute the onside kick.

“There were some positives. We got some kids that were relatively new stepped up and showed that they can play at this level. I’m confident that the kids will keep working hard and getting better,” said Crawford.

It doesn’t get any easier, as an always tough St. Joseph team is up this Friday.

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