The Sonoraville Firebirds got a chance to honor their seniors and get a final tune-up before Class AAA State Duals when they hosted Calhoun on Tuesday night while the Jackets got an opportunity to show improvement before heading into the traditional portion of their schedule.
Sonoraville defeated Calhoun 42-30 in the contest, which featured several hard-fought matches and impressive individual performances. Sonoraville coach Randy Steward said it was a good night for some competition and also a chance to show the seniors on his team how special they are to the Firebirds’ success.
“We were able to get a match in before we head to State Duals on Friday in Macon so that was good, and we were just happy that Calhoun came over here so we could have a nice Senior Night for these guys,” said Steward. “We have eight seniors, and Gavin (Thompson), Hunter (Wilson) and Brandon (Bell) have all been two-year starters since I’ve been here. I’ve been fortunate to get to work with them. And the other guys, they might not be starters, but they are all great kids and work extremely hard for us. Tonight was just trying to show them some love and give thanks for all they’ve done. It was a good night overall and a great turnout.”
Along with Thompson, Wilson and Bell, the other seniors honored prior to the match for Sonoraville were Hunter Brock, Bruin Gandy, Ryan Redd, Paul Hollander and Levi Meadows.
The action on the mat started at the 195-pound weight class with Sonoraville’s John Knight earning a pin to give his team early momentum. Calhoun’s Mariano Barrios got a decision victory at 220 to make it 6-3, but Sonoraville’s Paul Hollander answered at 285 with a decision win to pad the lead to 9-3 for the Firebirds.
As the slate shifted to the lower weight classes, Eli Knight got a pin at 106 to make it 15-3, and then Hector Arbos (113) earned a major decision to make it 19-3. Calhoun’s Blake Bailey got a forfeit win at 120 to make it 19-9, but Sonoraville stretched the lead back out by getting a pin from Jonathan Smith at 120 and a technical fall from Jayce Derryberry at 126 to make it 30-9.
Calhoun’s Reece Poe earned a decision in a hard-fought match against Sonoraville’s Bell at 138, and his teammate Bryant Busby got a pin at 145 to give the Jackets a little surge and make it 30-18.
The final four matches all ended in pins with each team picking up two to push the final score to 42-30 in favor of Sonoraville. Sonoraville’s Wilson got a quick pin at 152, Calhoun’s Jacob Dunlap pinned his opponent at 160, Sonoraville’s Charlie Brown earned a pin at 170 and Calhoun’s Sexton Golden ended the night with a pin at 182.
“It was good for these guys to get a match that needed one, and we were able to use some different guys to give some of our others a little rest,” said Steward. “With this match and then two good days of practice, we’ll be ready to go to Macon on Friday. Everyone is really excited for State Duals. Our goal is to go down there and get that first win and then try to keep rolling through the whole thing. It should be a fun couple days down there.”
The matchup between Sonoraville and Calhoun was the third time they’ve faced each other in the last few weeks as the Firebirds beat their cross-town adversaries 76-0 at the Calhoun New Year’s Duals and the again at the Area 3-AAA Duals 66-6. Calhoun coach Michael Herndon said it was good for his team to show progress on Tuesday against a really good team in Sonoraville.
“We just wanted to come out tonight and be more competitive than we had been the previous two matches,” said Herndon. “I felt like we did that tonight. We still have a long way to go, but it’s good to see improvement.”
Sonoraville, who finished as runners-up at Area for the second straight year last week, will open Class AAA State Duals on Friday at the Macon Centreplex against McNair in the first round.
Calhoun and Sonoraville will both compete at the Burnt Mountain Classic at Pickens High next Friday and Saturday.