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.