Largo’s Derrick Doss considered not wrestling this season.
Doss, a standout linebacker who was the Times’ 2011 county defensive player of the year, wanted to concentrate on schoolwork and lifting weights in order to get a scholarship in football.
But Doss couldn’t escape the memory of his final football game, a painful loss to Armwood in the first round of the playoffs. That loss served as powerful motivator for Doss to return to the mat.
“It was a tough way to finish, and I didn’t want my senior year to go out like that,” Doss said. “So I figured I should try to move on to the next sport and win a state title in that.”
He is well-positioned to win it all.
Doss, the top-ranked Class 2A wrestler in the 182-pound class, is 39-0 heading into the state tournament, which starts Friday at the Lakeland Center.
“I feel like have a good shot,” Doss said. “I’m more confident in what I’m doing. I just have to go out and make it happen.”
Wrestling was somewhat of an afterthought to Doss. He tried it out as a freshman at the urging of coach Jeremy Frioud, also the Packers’ defensive coordinator.
“Coach Frioud said it would make me a better football player,” Doss said. “He was right. It helps with balance, and staying low, all the things I need to be a better tackler in football.”
Relying on his strength and athleticism, Doss has been a constant title contender. But he has never had a season quite like this. He has only given up two takedowns and has proven to be dominant no matter the weight class he wrestles.
At the Southside Duals two months ago, Doss wrestled up two classes. Outweighed by nearly 40 pounds to each opponent, Doss rolled to an individual title. At the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet, he was named the most outstanding wrestler.
Now he is on the verge of the ultimate prize.
“I’m really trying to put everything I have into this week and go out like a champion,” Doss said.
When/where: Friday-Saturday, The Lakeland Center
Admission: $9 per session. Parking is $7.
Today: Weigh-ins start at 8 a.m. The first round starts at 10, followed by wrestlebacks and second round.
Saturday: Weigh-ins start at 8 a.m. Third round of wrestlebacks starts at 9:30 a.m., followed by the semifinals. Finalists are introduced at 5:15, with finals (on three mats) starting at 5:30.
More online: For first-round pairings, go here.