It wasn’t how North Forsyth wrestling coach Travis Jarrard drew it up, but it worked.
The Raiders trailed by 23 points in the final round of the Area 6-AAAAAA duals championship, but stormed back to cut the lead to 36-34 with only one match left. Senior Matt Carroll, who had to move up a weight class from 160 pounds to 170, pinned his opponent to move to 36-0 on the season and gave North a 40-36 win over Chattahoochee and an area duals title for the second consecutive season on Saturday at West Forsyth High School.
"I mapped everything out on paper, but things didn’t go our way at the beginning," Jarrard said. "I had to move some guys around and put them in different [weight] classes. It was for the best matchup for the team; it was Plan B.
"I was pretty worried. We had dug ourselves a hole. But, I was more comfortable when Matt came up. He didn’t have to get any bonus points; all he had to do was win. He was our ace in the hole."
With North down 33-10, Luke Slaton (132) and Ara Johnson (138) both won by fall to trim the lead to 33-22. Patrick Englishby (145) continued the run with a pin, cutting the score to five. Shane Cross (132) didn’t win his match, but only allowed three points. Chad Warner (160) had to win in order to keep North alive and did so to make the score 36-34, leaving Carroll with the final match.
"I had a game plan going in," said Carroll, who has 30 pins on the season. "I knew I had to win it and went straight after the guy. He weighed a little more than me, but I had confidence.
"It was a good comeback win. You could see it in [the Chattahoochee wrestlers] when we were coming back."
The Raiders (22-4) knocked off Centennial 48-30 in the first round before topping West Forsyth 41-31 in the semifinals to advance and face Chattahoochee.
West finished third.
"We won it because we’re a family," Jarrard said. "This team wrestled like a family. They picked each other up. There were plenty of individual efforts, but these kids believed in one another and got it done.
"All of the so-called experts said North Forsyth was in a rebuilding year and didn’t give us much of a chance. We lost eight senior starters. ... Nobody believed in us outside of the coaches and kids."