A thick slice of timely toughness is all it took to earn Bishop Diego its 12-6 semifinal win over top-seeded Paraclete, and a trip to the Mid Valley Division CIF Finals. On Saturday at Moorpark College, Bishop will face off against Santa Clara, which edged Bishop 42-41 earlier in the season.

Bishop’s lopsided wins of the last two rounds were history last week, as a very athletic Paraclete defense harnessed the Christian Winnewisser passing show and the reliable Bishop ground game for most of the night.

Most, but not all.

Eli Orosco took a screen pass from Winnewisser in the last minute of the first half and rolled for six broken tackles, 74 yards and Bishop’s first score, tying the game at six. On the Cardinals’ first possession of the second half, a 24-yard completion set up a quarterback sneak for Winnewisser on a fourth down dive from the one. Those six points held up, and proved just enough for the win.

Cardinals Radio

Join Owen Grohman and Dave Pintard for live coverage of Bishop Diego’s quest for the CIF championship Saturday.

The Grohman and Pintard pregame show starts at 7 p.m. on KTMS 990 AM, with a simulcast on 1450 AM. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. with Grohman handling the play-by-play and Pintard the color.

Bishop’s defense which had pitched shutouts for the last few weeks, was stingy again, after Paraclete’s touchdown on its first possession. The Cardinals were tough all night and bottled up the potent Paraclete running game, finally sealing the win with a Jeremy Kjar interception to turn back a determined late-game drive.

Saturday’s final will settle several questions. Just how much has Bishop improved since that narrow defeat at Santa Clara’s hands in October? Can the Cardinals’ defense put a stop to Santa Clara’s point machine? And will Bishop’s second-ever CIF Final appearance be the one that players, alums and coach Tom Crawford have long dreamed of?

Let’s hope so.