ST. PETERSBURG - Jerrod Douse eluded defenders as a running back with the Coquina Key Silver Raiders. James Douse mesmerized opponents as a guard on the Bay Point Middle School basketball team.
Both were quick on their feet and showed great balance. Those were the intangibles needed to perform well in another sport - wrestling.
The Douses knew their stepfather, Sam Pruitt, was a former two-time state wrestling champion (1980-81) at St. Petersburg High and returned to his alma mater in 1991 to be the coach. But it wasn't until the sixth grade that Jerrod decided to give the sport a chance. James followed suit two years later.
Now they can't let it go.
"I like basically everything about it," said Jerrod, 16, a junior. "I even want a mat so I can wrestle at home. I think I might ask for one for Christmas."
The brothers have been mainstays for the Green Devils the past three seasons and played a big role in helping the team win two tournaments this season. Starting today, they will try to advance to the state tournament, competing at the Class 3A region at East Lake.
"We've both watched tapes from last season trying to learn from our mistakes," said James, 18, a senior. "This is my shot and I want to do it with my brother."
As brothers, the Douses gained their closeness early. So it was only natural once Jerrod started wrestling that he waited for his older brother to join him.
"Those two never wanted to be away from one another," Pruitt said. "I can remember Jerrod went to the dentist one day and missed school. When he got home, he waited outside on the curb for his brother to get off the bus."
The Douses became pretty good tussling with each at home.
The hard part came when they got on the mat and wrestled someone else. Before they became good, they got pinned and thrown around.
To improve, they gave up other sports to concentrate on wrestling. They went to camps and wrestled in the offseason. The work showed as the two made it to regions last year.
Though Jerrod and James are competitive, they seek to remain even and would like the season to end with the same result: a berth in the state tournament.
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"I'm thrilled with the way they dedicated themselves to the sport and how much they've improved," Pruitt said.