It was a short gain of just 14 yards Friday night, but for Arroyo Grande’s Joel Bishop, it was a long time coming.
The last time the Eagles tight end caught a pass was Nov. 1, 2014, in a win against Atascadero. Since then, Bishop had major knee surgery and sat out during Arroyo Grande’s playoff run and the first five games of 2015.
Bishop was cleared by doctors to play Friday against Nipomo, and he was targeted three times and made one catch, and saw plenty of action in the second half.
“It was good,” Bishop said after the win. “I worked hard and got back out and had a fun game.”
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Bishop gives the already potent Arroyo Grande passing attack another weapon. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Bishop fills the role of tight end but is really more of a hybrid receiver.
On Friday, Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen lined Bishop up on the outside as a wide receiver in the red zone and ran an unsuccessful fade route. His size and leaping ability make him the perfect target for Arroyo Grande quarterback Sawyer May when the Eagles get close to the end zone.
“For him and for as hard as he worked, that to me is what made it all worthwhile,” Goossen said.
Like Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham and San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Bishop follows a trend of tight ends who also play basketball. Bishop played forward for Arroyo Grande last season, but because of his injury, he will not play this year.
During the first seven games of the 2014 football season, Bishop had 12 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown.
“I know he is just going to get better as the year goes on and become more comfortable and hopefully play a major role in our offense,” Goossen said.
His teammates were happy have him back on the field.
“Joel is a really good friend of mine,” Arroyo Grande wide receiver Jeremiah Wright said. “Me and him go surf a lot, and seeing him back out and healthy was really good. It was fun to see him out there, and I can’t wait to see the rest of his season.”
Bishop said he feels “110 percent” healthy and is confident he can make a difference as Arroyo Grande enters PAC 5 play.
“I expect to get my spot back and get back out there and give the team all I can,” Bishop said.