Cherokee was ahead 15-0.
Camden Catholic was celebrating.
It seemed like an odd scene, but the Irish and their fans knew what was coming.
They had survived the first four bouts against Cherokee's big guns at the bottom of the lineup, and the calvary was on the way.
Call it The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Starting with 103 pounds, Camden Catholic dominated the light weights en route to a 39-27 wrestling victory over Cherokee Monday night in an Olympic Conference clash of two of South Jersey's top five teams.
Camden Catholic (18-3), No. 4 in The Inquirer top 10, won eight consecutive bouts, registering four pins and a technical fall, from 103 through 145 to clinch the match in the Chiefs' gymnasium.
Cherokee (15-3), the No. 5 team in the rankings, got pins from Paul Sims (171 pounds), Sam Savoia (152) and Ben Fanjoy (160), the undefeated senior who ran his record to 24-0.
"We wrestled hard," Cherokee coach Bill Roller said. "They are just so tough there in the middle."
Camden Catholic had beaten Cherokee, 37-26, on Saturday in the finals of the Jack Welch Duals. In that match, the teams each won seven bouts but the Irish managed five pins to one for the Chiefs.
"It's tough to beat a good team twice in a season much less twice in two days," Camden Catholic coach Jerry Boland said.
Freshman John Amato started the Camden Catholic rally with a 7-1 decision at 103 pounds. Freshman Alex Smyth won an 11-1 decision at 112 and sophomore Chad Walsh won a 5-1 decision at 119 in a key matchup of top wrestlers with Cherokee's D.J. Mele.
The pivotal victory for the Irish might have been freshman Tom Nolan's pin at 125 pounds. Nolan, who entered the match with a 6-12 record, scored a reversal and quick pin at the 3 minute, 22-second mark to give the Irish their first lead at 16-15.
"I'm working harder in the room and wrestling a lot better than I was at the beginning of the year," Nolan said.
Pins by senior Matt Sausman (130) and sophomore Aaron Lambert (135), a technical fall by sophomore Frank Varallo (140) and another pin by undefeated sophomore T.J. Miller (145) clinched the victory for the Irish.
"Tom Nolan showed up huge," Boland said.
The impressive victory started a big week for Camden Catholic that includes matches with Collingswood on Wednesday, Central Jersey power Jackson on Friday, and No. 2 Timber Creek in a marquee battle in the Irish gym at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"We knew all along this week would tell us what we're all about," Boland said.
Camden Catholic 39, Cherokee 27
171: Paul Sims, C, pin Carmen Iossa, 1:34; 189: Jeremy Reese, C, dec. Joe Mazzochette, 8-2; 215: Mike Zeuli C, dec. Jeff Miller, 7-1; 285: Tim Swanson, C, Marcus Coleman, 6-2; 103: John Amato, CC dec. Alex Bader, 7-1; 112: Alex Smyth, CC, dec. Bill Lobosco, 11-1; 119: Chad Walsh, CC dec. D.J. Mele, 5-1; 125: Tom Nolan, CC, pin Mark Weaver, 3:22; 130: Matt Sausman, CC pin Drew Senirano. 1:20; 135: Aaron Lambert CC, pin Nick Nastasi, 3:08; 140: Frank Varallo CC, tech. fall Steve Nastasi, 17-0 (5:11); 145: T.J. Miller, CC, pin Sean Barlow, 1:55; 152: Sam Savoia, C pin Colin Pierlott, 3:34; 160: Ben Fanjoy, C, pin Matt McBride, 1:51.