With one match remaining and Douglas leading 36-33, the season-opening dual between the Tigers and Carson fell into the hands of two unproven commodities.
For the decisive 160-pound bout, Carson put forth Junior Valadarez, a sophomore with little varsity experience, and Douglas sent out Javier Trujillo, a rookie who'd never been in a competitive high school wrestling match before.
Valadarez pushed through, building a 6-0 lead through the first two periods while Trujillo eluded a pin four different times, before Valadarez recorded the fall at 4:18 to give the Senators a season-opening 39-36 win in Minden Thursday night.
"He just wanted to wrestle," Carson coach Tyson Thivierge said. "He showed a lot of heart. He just wanted it."
On the other side, Douglas coach Lamont McCann was left wishing he'd had more time to prepare Trujillo.
"He's got a lot of talent," McCann said. "But he is as green as you can get. If we could have had some more work with him, things might have turned out different."
But such is the lament that both coaches have been talking about since the annual rivalry match, which has been the difference in the league title race in all but one of the years since the Sierra League was establish, was moved from the season finale to the season opener.
"It's really a bummer that this dual can't be later in the season," Thivierge said. "You'd see even more fireworks than you saw tonight.
"Both squads would be more fresh, they'd look crisper. I have all the respect in the world for Lamont and that coaching staff over there. Every year you know this dual is going to be exciting. It's a tough challenge every year, but having this in January would have been twice the matchup."
As it was, there were plenty of fireworks to go around.
Carson took a quick 6-0 lead as the match opened up with the 171-pounders and Justin Steele came up with a pin in 1:41.
Douglas' Tony Ferris tied the score up even faster, recording a pin in 37 seconds to take the 189-pound bout.
Not to be outdone, Carson's Garrett Truesdale came right back with an even quicker pin in the 215 bout, this time in 30 seconds, and Carson's Max Schadek won the heavyweight bout by forfeit to give the Senators an 18-6 lead through the upperweights.
Douglas freshman Dillon Spates was impressive in his first high school match, winning a 7-1 decision over Carson's Patrick Craugh in the first match of the night to make it past the first round, much less go the distance.
With the Tigers trailing 18-9, 112-pounder Wes Peterson took a 5-2 decision over Nick Schlager after scoring a reversal with 15 seconds left in the first period and holding on through a scoreless third.
That set up the 119-pound match, which both coaches pointed to as the swing spot of the night.
Douglas' Tim Souza, also wrestling in his first varsity match, took an early 2-0 lead and held on through most of the second period before Carson's Ricky Urdarti rode a reversal and a near fall to take the win, giving the Senators a 21-12 lead.
"Ricky was a huge highlight for us tonight," Thivierge said. "He's a 112-pounder that simply couldn't wrestle there tonight because of weight certifications. He wrestled his butt off and it ended up being that Douglas' kid got tired first and Ricky won the match."
McCann agreed that conditioning came into play.
"Just as a team we have to work on our conditioning more and be prepared for the whole six minutes of the match," he said.
Carson's Todd Banko pinned Michael Sepulveda in 1:18 in the 125-pound match to put the Senators up 27-12 before heading into the toughest stretch of the Tiger lineup.
"We have a group from the 130s to the 145s that is real tough," McCann said. "They did what we expected them to do tonight."
At 130 pounds, Nico Barker pinned Carson's Adam Welch in 54 seconds to bring Douglas to within 27-18.
C.J. Wynar pinned Brandon Bigler at 135 pounds in 1:35 to close the gap to 27-24, Cody Spates pinned Nick Poole at 140 pounds in 46 seconds to give Douglas a 30-27 lead and Ryan Olsen took the 145-pound match with a pin in 3:12 against Chris Foss to give the Tigers a 36-27 lead with two matches remaining.
"Hats off to Douglas," Thivierge said. "Those boys came to wrestle and they really put it to a lot of our kids."
Martin Azzam reclaimed the momentum for Carson in the 152-pound class, pinning Tyler Cook in 3:22 to close the gap to 36-33.
"Martin was just a beast," Thivierge said. "He's made a lot of strides since last season and his work showed tonight."
That set up the decisive 160-pound match.
"With all of our guys tonight, we just told them to wrestle their match, and forget about everything else going on around them," Thivierge said. "That's all they can do. Up and down the lineup I thought we wrestled well except for a few matches where we lacked the intensity I like to see."