By Phil Anastasia
Six bouts into Friday night's South Jersey Group 2 title match, Delsea's Tom Carney took the mat with his team tied with Highland.
The visiting Tartans had won three bouts in a row. They had the momentum.
Carney knew he needed to do more than win. He had to change the course of the match.
"I like pressure," Carney said. "It makes me do my best."
Carney registered a late pin and the Crusaders never looked back.
Sparked by a flurry of pins that began with Carney's work at 120 pounds, Delsea defeated Highland 38-26 and captured its sixth South Jersey Group 2 title in the last seven years.
"I knew I had a job to do," said Carney, a junior who pinned Dillon Prendergast with just 14 seconds remaining in the bout.
"He's Mr. February," Delsea coach Greg Sawyer said of Carney's ability to come through for his team late in the regular season.
Delsea's victory also was the 200th in Sawyer's career.
"It's a good venue to get it in," said Sawyer, whose is in his 11th season as head coach at his alma mater.
Senior 132-pounder John Pierson and senior 138-pounder Anthony DeMarco added second-period pins for Delsea (24-5), which won its fourth sectional title in a row.
Senior 220-pounder Bryan Dobzanski also won by pin for the Crusaders, who will advance to the state semifinals Sunday at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North High School.
Dobzanski, who won the 220-pound state title with a 42-0 record last season, won his 78th bout in a row. He is 32-0 this season.
Delsea held an 8-6 edge in bouts but built a big edge in bonus points thanks to four pins as well as major decisions by junior Vic DeFranco at 182 and freshman Brad Dobzanski, Bryan's brother, at 145.
"We got out-wrestled," Highland coach Mike Davidson said. "You can't win a match when you get pinned. We came out flat and we didn't wrestle to our ability."
Highland got a big lift early in the match as sophomore Zach Shafer registered a pin over Greg Halikman at 285.
Seth Henry (106) and Lucas Siegfried (113) followed with decisions to pull Highland even with at 19-19 after six bouts.
But Carney's pin started a run that featured five wins in six bouts, including three pins, a major and sophomore Dom DeMarco's 2-1 decision over Sheldon Morris in a featured matchup at 152 pounds.
DeMarco's win made it 38-17 and sealed the sectional title for a Delsea team that appeared to be in a rebuilding mode at the start of the season.
"I said at the beinning of the year that I liked these kids," Sawyer said. "That usually means they do the right things.
"They got better. They got tougher. As a coach, that's nice to see."
Delsea 38, Highland 26
182: Victor DeFrance, D, d. Jon Villegas, 14-5; 195: Joe Fabrizio, D, dec. George Duddy, 4-3; 220: Bryan Dobzanski, D, pin Mark Gillis, 1:30; 285: Zach Shafer, H, pin Greg Halikman, 3:51; 106: Seth Henry, H, dec. Nick Gaetano, 14-6; 113: Lucas Seigfried, H, dec. John Hassett, 4-3; 120: Tom Carney D, pin Dillon Prendergast, 5:46; 126: Josh Clark, H, dec. Kevin Huck, 13-2; 132: John Pierson, D, pin Mikal Jenkins, 3:00; 138: Anthony DeMarco, D, pin Nick Wade, 3:09; 145; Brad Dobzanski D, pin Zach McCafferty, 8-0; 152: Dom DeMarco, D, dec. Sheldon Morris, 2-1; 160: Tom Nolan, H, pin Justin Moore, 2:17; 170: Jordan Warren H, dec. Vince DeGeorge, 5-0.
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