Dopson ready to make most of his senior year

August 27, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • North Hagerstown's Dylan Dopson
North Hagerstown's Dylan Dopson

HAGERSTOWN — In Dylan Dopson’s world, success is a battle.

As an offensive lineman and a heavyweight wrestler, competition is hand-to-hand combat. You overpower the guy across from you and gain the advantage fair and square.

In his young athletic career, there is only one opponent Dopson readily admits he gladly accepted an unfair advantage of to gain victory.

“I guess I cheated fate a bit,” Dopson said. “It could have been much worse.”

Cheating is acceptable in this case. That’s mainly because fate doesn’t always play fair.

The North Hagerstown senior has lost nearly half of his last two years of high school athletic eligibility due to two injuries — one a leg problem that wasn’t as bad as first diagnosed, the second a torn labrum that was more severe than first hoped.

They forced Dopson to miss most of the wrestling tournament season as a sophomore and all of his junior season, to play hurt through most of his junior year of football and to sit out both of North’s last two baseball seasons.

Now, Dopson is fully healed and ready to show his true talents, especially in his final fall and winter prep seasons.

“This all makes me look forward to it,” Dopson said. “I’m not being cocky, but I have a general plan. In football, we have a solid team and with this being my fourth year, I can help coach some of the players up. And wrestling, that’s my favorite.”

To look at Dopson, you’d never think he had a problem — or injury — in the world. At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, he is more like a mountain than a molehill among players in Washington County.

He’s the offensive tackle that the Hubs have run behind for the last three years. And yet, North has not yet seen the best Dopson has to offer while he’s been in the trenches.

For most of last season, Dopson played with the torn labrum that finally gave out when he started wrestling.

“It’s a common injury for offensive linemen,” Dopson said. “At first, it was diagnosed as a severe bruise that would heal in four-to-six weeks. Then when I tried to wrestle, it bothered me.”

Dopson had ripped the shoulder out of its socket, mainly by playing his football position. After the repeated impact of pushing off rushing defensive linemen on the line of scrimmage, the shoulder became a casualty of warfare.

He found ways to play football through the injury, but in wrestling, the consistent use of the shoulder became difficult.

After talking with his father Dan, Dopson decided to shut himself down before wrestling season and have the surgery. The plan was to have a healthy slate for his senior year, starting with football.

Dopson underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear at the bottom of the shoulder.

“They reattached it with a rope,” he said. “It’s going to be in there the rest of my life. The most critical part was the four to six weeks, trying to make sure I didn’t fall on it.”

The surgery came a year after Dopson was put out of his sophomore year in wrestling with what was diagnosed as a broken femur, suffered during a Washington County Tournament heavyweight bout.

A couple of weeks later, he was notified that he didn’t suffer a break, only a strain.

“I ditched the brace and crutches immediately,” he said. “I could have wrestled again and had enough points to go to regionals, but I found out after regionals were over.”

Both injuries tested Dopson’s mental makeup.

“It wasn’t tough, but it wasn’t easy,” Dopson said. “I had to rearrange my schedule in the second semester. I had weightlifting and I couldn’t do that during the recovery.”

As a lineman and a wrestler, Dopson had a lot of upper body muscle already built up. The trick was to keep the rest of his body in condition so he didn’t fall too far behind once his recovery was completed.

That’s when his personal pit crew of his father Dan, wrestling coach Greg Slick, football coach Dan Cunningham and weightlifting instructor and former football coach Glenn Cross came into play.

“My dad and Coach Slick pushed me to come in here,” Dopson said, sitting in North’s weight room. “It was a little harder to find it, but the outside sources pushed me. My conditioning took the biggest hit.”

The timing of the surgery allowed Dopson to get to work and get ready for football with a strenuous summer schedule.

“I was able to go to some (football) camps to get some (college) looks,” Dopson said. “I went to five camps — at Liberty, James Madison, Delaware, Villanova and Towson.”

And now, it’s time to get down to work as the Hubs get ready to open their season. Dopson admits he wants to get through the fall season with success and health so he can get back on the mats.

“We are family,” Dopson said. “We are brothers and I want to be there for them.”

Despite the pain and setbacks, Dopson has come back better physically and with a better appreciation of abilities and surroundings.

“The femur thing, I kind of brushed off. It was just a misread,” he said. “The shoulder was kind of scary. I learned that I have to take care of my body and that when things arise, don’t take the risk of getting more injuries.

“It was all a blessing in disguise.”

Chalk it up as another battle won by Dylan Dopson.

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