By Don Seeley
FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — A.J. Maida opted to look at the calendar rather than the scoreboard Saturday morning.
While there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to shout about during Methacton’s 44-17 non-league loss to visiting Downingtown East, the Warriors head coach was well aware of the date … and the days and weeks ahead to get back into the practice room to work the kinks out of his lineup before heading into the Pioneer Athletic Conference and postseason grind.
The Warriors won just four of the 13 contested bouts against the Cougars, who are every bit as good as their 11-1 overall may indicate and more than likely will pin down the Ches-Mont League title when all is said and done in a couple of months.
So considering the opposition, and the handful of so bright spots sprinkled in and around the four individual wins, Maida’s mood was still somewhat upbeat following the setback.
“Downingtown East is very good, so I don’t want to sound like I’m taking anything away (from that team) at all, but we obviously have to improve,” he explained. “We can’t wrestle in some situations like we did today. We need more of an effort.
“But that’s why we put a team like Downingtown East on our schedule. That’s a quality team. We had an opportunity to look at what (Downingtown East) does and why they have the success they do.”
What the Cougars did Saturday was, for the most part, dominate their hosts on their feet — getting the first takedown in eight of the bouts, seven of which they won — and consistently finish what series of moves they started when down on the mat.
When it was over, the Cougars had three pins, a technical fall and three dominating decisions — one 7-1 and the others 7-0 and 6-0 shutouts.
“Obviously there is a lot for us to work on,” said Methacton’s Joe Staley, who ran up a technical fall in just 2:31 at 132 pounds to get his team on the board in the fourth bout of the match. “We just can’t give up the bonus points like we did. The little fundamentals are what we need to work on.
“This was our first home meet, and a lot of the guys were a little nervous. But we’ll hard, and it will only get better from here on in.”
The Warriors (4-2) trailed 14-0 — thanks to Jude McDowell’s pin at 113, unbeaten Wade Cummings’ technical fall at 120 and Jared Leonettis’ decision at 126 — before Staley’s five-pointer. But when the Cougars’ T.J. Nelson (decision), Matt Fischer (decision) and Alex Wait (35-second pin) followed, the deficit swelled to 26-5 at the halfway point.
And from there, Downingtown East and Methacton simply exchanged wins.
James Meyer’s made it 29-5 with his 7-0 blanking at 160 before Devin Bradley added to Methacton’s total with a pin at 170. Chris Jarani gave the Cougars three more with a 6-0 decision at 182 before Mike Baccaro used a third-period escape to edge Adam Pleines, 3-2, at 195. Then Matt Bartolotta’s first-period pin at 220 officially clinched it before Methacton’s Tracey Green put together a workmanlike 5-1 decision at 285.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Downingtown East head coach Joe Horvath. “We’re pleased after making a few adjustments (due to the injured 170-pound Chris Brady being out of the lineup).”
Horvath had to be happy with the showing considering the Cougars were coming off a 40-13 win over crosstown and Ches-Mont rival Downingtown West three days earlier.
“We talked about (a letdown) immediately after that match,” Horvath. “We talked to the kids because they had another challenge Saturday. We told them they had to remain focused, stay sharp as a team. They managed to do that, too.”
“Downingtown East is too well-coached for (any letdown),” Maida added. “Coach Horvath and his staff get them ready for every match.”
Which is what Maida intends to do with the Warriors.
“We have a lot to work on,” he said. “But it’s December, and (this was) December wrestling. Hopefully we’ll get back to work and get ready for January, February and March. This today was one of the ways to get ready.”
Methacton forfeited the 106-pound finale. … Staley, Baccaro and Green all improved to 8-1, while Bradley upped his mark to 8-2. … Cummings, one of District 1’s most promising freshmen, is the son of Cougars assistant Darrin Cummings. ... The Warriors head down to Delaware next week for the Tiger Classic, while the Cougars will take part in the Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham. ... Former Methacton head coach Dennis Kellon — who will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame next April — was in attendance, as was former Downingtown state champion Glenn Koser.