The Greyhounds will face Woodland-Bartow in the final today at 3 p.m., marking the third straight year the teams will match up for the crown.
“It will be a hard, tough match against Woodland,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “I think it will be a couple of match points that separate us, but that can change quickly with momentum. You let your guard down, it can change in a hurry.
“We’ll be starting at a good weight class for us that leads into our most experienced guys, so our plan is to get up early on them and make them have to change their style where they have to wrestle us differently. We want to try to make them focus on doing other things and get them making mistakes. It should be a good match.”
Pope beat Whitewater 44-13 in Friday’s quarterfinal before facing Allatoona.
Today will mark the Greyhounds’ fifth final in six years. They were the Class AAAAA state runner-up in 2009 and 2010 and have finished in the top four for seven straight years.
“It’s great to be in this position again,” Haskin said. “Ware County was a tough first-round opponent, and Allatoona was a tough team, too. The three teams we wrestled to get here are still in the tournament. That says a lot about our team. We had to take the hard road to get here. The kids are focused and responded well after our meeting Thursday night (after coming from behind to beat Ware County 43-25).”
Unlike the Ware County match, Pope got off to good starts against Whitewater and Allatoona and pulled away late.
Sean Hayden (220 pounds) and Josh Tazzetta (113) scored pins in their two bouts, while Jake Adcock (138) recorded two technical falls.
Seth Gorman (285), Tyler Haskin (132), T.J. Collins (145), Davis Burson (152) and Jake Henson (160) also went 2-0. Walker Yarbrough (120) and Colton Lombardy (170) won against Whitewater, and Zeke Weber (195) had a victory against Allatoona.
Allatoona beat Clarke Central 45-18 in the quarterfinals. Down 3-0, the Buccaneers rallied for nine straight wins and an insurmountable 41-3 lead.
Allatoona kept the match close against Pope early on, tying it at 12-all after five bouts. The Greyhounds then won five straight bouts, and seven of the final nine, to take the match.
Harrison Kemp (106), Cody Anderson (120), Jarrett Williams (126) and Will Kemp (170) won both their matches for Allatoona on Friday. Cody Webb (195) had a win against Pope, while Amir Moore (285), Latrell Harris (113), Ethan Benedict (132), Jack Woods (138), Eric Vermette (145) and Jacob Robinson (152) won against Clarke Central.
Allatoona will continue wrestling in the consolation rounds today, first facing Ware County. A victory would then send the Buccaneers into the third-place match against either Creekview or Whitewater.
“I think we’ve done really well,” Allatoona coach Joe Lanier said. “I’m pleased to a point, because we’re not where we wanted to be, which is in the final, so we have a new goal now, and that’s to finish in third place.
“Matchups will be key (today). We can’t give up bonus points if we want to get to where we want to be.”
In Class AAAAAA, Kennesaw Mountain and Marietta both fell in their bids to advance to compete in today’s final rounds.
The Mustangs beat Lowndes 34-30 before falling to Grayson 36-26. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils posted victories over Douglas County (45-15) and Newton (48-10) before falling 40-25 to Etowah.
Marietta’s Jason Caldwell (106), Isaiah Borne (195) and Brandon Hill (220) won all three of their bouts Friday. Daniel Leon (113), Jelani Miller (120), Brad King (132), Alex Ambio (152), Anthony Neary (160), Jonathan Gates (170) and Jeron Holsey (285) each went 2-1, while Abraham Leon (126) and Dareon Agurs (145) finished 1-2.
“If you take a step back at look at it, we finished in the top eight in the state,” Marietta coach Tommy Carthers said. “But if you look back at what we could have done, you can see we have more work to do. We’re going to build on this and see what we can do the rest of the season.”