Friday Night Lights: Unbeaten Bishop will see a much-improved Carpinteria

The saying “timing is everything” seems appropriate for Saturday night’s Bishop Diego-Carpinteria rivalry football game at La Playa Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

If this game were held a month ago, Bishop Diego would have been considered a heavy favorite. The Cardinals were beating good teams like Santa Fe Christian, La Salle and Mission Prep while Carpinteria was struggling, slowed by injuries and hiccups on offense.

The Carpinteria team that will take the field on Halloween night has greatly improved, which makes this a scary game for the 8-0 Cardinals.

After a 0-5 start, the Warriors have turned things around. They’ve won three in a row, are healthy and playing good football. Their offense is clicking behind quarterback Jimmy Graves and running back Oscar Garcia and they’re making big plays on defense and special teams. They returned two interceptions for touchdowns in last week’s win at Nordhoff.

Even with all of that, Carpinteria will need to be at its best to keep pace with a Bishop Diego team that is averaging 37 points and piling up 216 yards a game on the ground. Michael Soracco has been the primary ball carrier for the Cardinals. John Harris is back from injury, giving Bishop a potent 1-2 punch. AV Bennett is a game-breaker at wide receiver and on special teams. The defense, led by linebacker Matt Shotwell, has allowed only 106 points in eight games.

Bishop Diego, ranked seventh in the CIF Northern Division, has won the last four meetings of this series that goes back to 1943. Tonight’s winner will clinch a tie for the TVL title. The Pick: Bishop Diego

Ventura (4-4, 2-0) at Dos Pueblos (2-6, 1-2), 7 p.m. — The Chargers celebrate homecoming, and a upset of first-place Ventura on Friday night would be a nice way to close out the season. The return of senior receiver Josh Flora is a big boost to the offense. Manny Nwosu has come into his own at running back. He had 177 yards on 14 carries last week against San Marcos. The DP defense will need to step up and slow down Ventura’s strong running game. The Pick: Ventura

San Marcos (1-7, 0-2) at Buena (6-2, 2-0), 7 p.m. — The Royals hope to catch the Bulldogs looking ahead to their crosstown showdown with Ventura next week. A Buena win on Friday night clinches a title for the Channel League title. The Pick: Buena.

Cate (7-0, 3-0) at Laguna Blanca (6-1, 2-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.— The host Owls will need to slow down Cate running back Isaiah Washington and quarterback Michael Nettesheim to keep the game close. The Rams are averaging 52 points a game and are gunning for the outright Condor League title. Laguna’s defense played well last week in a 20-16 loss at Thacher. Laguna coach Shane Lopes is looking for his first win against Cate. The Pick: Cate.