It took every ounce of talent for North Forsyth to win the 6-AAAAAA area duals tournament last year, a victory that required a 23-point comeback in the final against Chattahoochee. And yet, the road to another championship may be even more difficult this time around for the talented Raiders.
South Forsyth has risen from the ashes and is much-improved this season. Lambert remains a tough opponent, as does Chattahoochee and Johns Creek.
While North is favored in this year’s area duals—which will take place this Saturday at Lambert—their odds of winning aren’t as high as some believe. And even though head coach Travis Jarrard remains confident in his squad’s abilities, he notes that the Raiders have a difficult task at hand.
"We have a battle on our hands with a couple teams, there’s no doubt about it," said Jarrard. "Nothing is a given this year. There are a lot of quality teams and we’re going to have to be at our best to repeat."
South’s recent ascension has made 6-AAAAAA a deeper region than recent years. With a much larger and more talented roster, the War Eagles have gone from basement dwellers to legitimate contenders.
And according to head coach Danny Sinnott, South has a chance to do some damage this weekend.
"Our goal is to make it to state duals, so we’ll have to come in top two in the region," said Sinnott. "It’s a tough battle … but I think we can do it. There’s North and Chattahoochee, but we’re right there."
"I think we definitely have what it takes to compete in this region," South senior co-captain Tyler Crawford said in December. "People may not look at us that way yet, so all we can do is go out there and prove what we’re made of."
At its core, wrestling is an individual sport, but the dual tournaments add an interesting team element to the mix. To succeed in such an event, schools will need to receive strong efforts from top to bottom.
"In this team format, everyone has to do their part," said Jarrard. "Whether you’re expected to win by 10 or expected to lose, the motivation has to be there, otherwise we won’t have a shot.
"Everyone had to know their role. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out."