Still, it’s always nice to come away from the early-season matches with some positives.
That’s what the Rome Wolves and the Darlington Tigers were looking for Thursday when the two squads hosted showdowns on their home mats.
The Wolves emerged with a 65-15 win over Cedartown and a 45-26 victory over Calhoun, ranked No. 5 in the Class AA state poll. Calhoun defeated Cedartown, a first-year program, 72-12.
The Tigers took wins over Coosa (50-12) and Walker (42-29), but dropped a 60-9 decision to a team that few if any programs will be able to handle this season, top-ranked and defending state champion LaFayette.
“They may well win it again,” Darlington coach Kelly McDurmon said about the Ramblers, who blanked Coosa 83-0 and took care of Walker 65-12. “They have such a strong program up there and they know what they’re doing.”
The Ramblers, however, were unable to keep Darlington’s Korey Pitts from keeping his perfect string intact as the senior won his match against LaFayette and both matches against Coosa and Walker to run his record this season to 7-0.
“His goal is to go undefeated this year,” McDurmon said of Pitts, who won the state championship at 112 pounds last year and has moved up to 125 this time around. “This year as a senior, he’s taken on a leadership role he’s unaccustomed to, but he’s accepted it.”
Joining Pitts in being perfect on Thursday were teammates Carl Edge (145) and Lucas Jennings (119), who won both matches they were involved in, while Jeff Puckett (152) went 2-1 on the day.
Perfection was the order of the day at Rome, where eight Wolves won all of their matches — Keith Murdock (112), Cameron Jones (119), Nicky Harbinson (125), Tucker Williams (130), Ben Woodard (152), Conor Young (160), Corey Wright (189) and Clay Wimberly (215).
“I was proud of the guys tonight,” Rome coach Wesley Styles said. “We were missing a few guys tonight, but if we stay healthy we should have a good year.”
Rome gets a tough test on Saturday when the Wolves head to Tennessee to compete in the Cleveland Duals, while Darlington take part in the Pace Invitational on Saturday in Atlanta at Pace Academy.
Next week, the Tigers visit Chattooga, while the Wolves visit Murray County on Thursday before hosting their annual Wolfpack Duals on Saturday, Dec. 15.
“You want the kids to get the confidence this time of year,” Styles said, “but you also want them to meet tough competition, and over the next week they’ll get that.”