The word was out from the start of the season that the South Carroll Cavaliers were right up there with perennial county powers Francis Scott Key and North Carroll.
Last night in Uniontown, the No. 9 Cavaliers made good on that word with a 37-31 upset of the previously unbeaten and second-ranked Key Eagles.
Key (10-1) appeared to be in control as defending state champion Zac Yinger came out for his 152-pound match only to find nobody there for visiting South Carroll. The forfeit win gave the Eagles a 31-13 lead, but that was only the start of the Cavaliers' lineup shuffle.
Charlie Conaway moved up to 160 from 152 and started a string of four straight pins to give the Cavaliers the win.
As has been the case throughout the county slate with South Carroll, it came down to the heavyweight match and Dan McKennie.
Going in tied at 31, McKennie needed just 1:20 to pin Key's John Frech and erase any memories of last week's heart-breaker at North Carroll.
South Carroll coach Peter Olson flip-flopped defending state champ Mike Chenoweth and Steve Yokay at 171 and 189 to set the stage for McKennie -- both responded in a big way. Yokay moved down to 171 to pin Tim Puckett with Chenoweth handling the bigger Bobby Bollinger at 189.
Sliding Conaway up to 160 was one of the keys. The Eagles had two wrestlers weighed in at 160 -- Robert Buntin and Puckett. They went with Buntin at 160 figuring they would have the better match-up there against Conaway with Chenoweth expected to have the edge with whoever they brought out against him at 171. Instead, the Cavaliers sent out Yokay at 171 and saved Chenoweth for 189.
Olson said senior team captain Dan Peiffer came up with the suggestion.
"Dan just said 'Coach, they have two guys at 160.' So we moved Yokay to 171 and let Chenoweth wrestle the bigger kid. He put his better kid to wrestle Conaway," Olson said. "Tonight was definitely a strategy win and you win some of those nights and can also get stuck."
The night started as tough as it ended for the Eagles (12-1). They had to forfeit the 103-pound match because Jason Fogus was unavailable for personal reasons.
"You come into a match knowing it's going to be tight and you don't want to give away anything," said Key coach Bill Hyson. "It hurts, but you don't want to take away from what [South Carroll] did in the match."
Key came back with a pin from Matt Yinger (112), a technical fall by Ryan Etzler and a 3-2 decision win from Steve Lessard (130) over Peiffer. Dan Alberter (125) and Kevin Sakalas (135) kept things close for South Carroll. Alberter came away with a 11-0 major decision over Jason Hooper and Sakalas edged Tony Cahoon, 4-3, in a pivotal decision.
Randy Owings (140) and J.T. Chiaruttini (145) got pins for Key to go along with the six points Yinger got from the forfeit to give them the 31-13 lead. But the rest of the night belonged to South Carroll.
"This was a match that came down to the last match and if we get in a shell we have some serious evaluating to do. I think it will light a fire in us," said Hyson.
"They had a good night and took advantage of it."