Call it the Super Bowl on the mat.
It’s Timberlane against North Andover, a matchup of high school wrestling powers which have dominated opponents within New England for years, but have never tested each other.
Thanks to prodding from Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt and some schedule maneuvering, the wrestling titans will square off Saturday evening, Dec. 16 in what is truly a dream matchup.
In just the last two years, since Carl Cincotta took over the North Andover program, the Knights have gone 52-3 and won their second and third of three straight Division 2 state titles. And last year they finished fourth at the New England meet.
It’d be hard to match a record like that, but Timberlane surpasses it. While wrestling teams far and wide, the Owls have been 46-3, their only losses coming to Danbury, Conn., and twice in the National Festival Duals in Pennsylvania.
In tournaments, the Owls have no equal, having ruled the rugged Lowell Holiday and Redskin (Maine) tournaments for years and winning the last five New England crowns, something no one has ever come close to accomplishing.
Still, while Timberlane is considered the king of the mat, the Knights have generally boasted so much depth that some have argued that they could topple the Owls in a head-to-head matchup.
What has previously been just debated, however, will now be decided on the mat, something that excites wrestlers from both schools.
“I think we’re really looking forward to wrestling them and beating them,” said North Andover senior Danielle Coughlin. “They’re the team to beat and it would mean a lot to beat them.
“Beating weaker teams doesn’t mean much when you’ve won three state titles in a row.”
The Owls have nothing to prove, but they respect the Knights and welcome the challenge.