While eight teams will be competing for a state tournament berth, first-year Carrollton coach Ryan Wilman thinks Saturday will be pretty much a two-horse race between his Trojans and the host squad.
"It will be eight teams, we're going in as the one seed and Alexander will be the two seed. Obviously, in my mind, that could be Alexander one and Carrollton two. We wrestled them here at home and it was a barnburner and certainly could have come down either way," Wilman said. "Talking about the area, I think it's going to come down to us and Alexander."
Coming off a strong showing at Wednesday's quad meet at Bremen, the Trojans are looking to make it to the state duals for the third season in a row.
"Honestly, coming off the test we had against Bremen, was good preparation and was good for the kind of fight we'll be up against Alexander," Wilman said. "The real test is going to be that final match against Alexander, and I expect them to be every bit as tough as they were the first time around."
When Wilman looks down his roster, he feels he can pretty much put down a 'W' next to seven of the 14 weight classes with the Trojans' talent level. With returning state champions in Jake Adcock now at 126 pounds and Taylor Lujan (160) and other state-placers — Rhett Hembree (132), Dan Harris (170) and Travis Joyce (195). The Trojans also have a solid wrestler at 106 pounds in Bryan Johnson.
"As the season's developed, we've found that six, seven weights we had were really competitive, regardless if it was here in the state or outside in the southern states. We've got a couple state champs and a number of state-placers in addition to a couple of guys that are young, but have made an impact on the team already. We've always got a fighting shot against anybody because of our very talented wrestlers," Wilman said. "What I told our guys in the room today is we've got to have some of those guys that aren't favorites, that aren't our studs, to step up, win some matches where they're an underdog to really compete and beat teams like Alexander."
Even though Carrollton and Alexander are the top two teams in the area, they still have to win to get into the championship match. If both do get there, the Trojans would like another win against Alexander to both build confidence and earn a better seed in Macon as they look to capture the Class AAAA title.
"The way I look at it, Alexander is in the hunt for a state title, but we're in a hunt for a state title. I think Alexander is as every bit as good as Gilmer, every bit as good as Bremen. It's an unbelievable opportunity for us and a great measuring stick if we go out there and beat Alexander for the area title. I think it just resonates with our team that the hard work we put forth is paying off and that we are ready to compete against anybody in the state to go out and win the state title," Wilman said. "It's good to get the opportunity to wrestle against such a great team."