A reserve running back for Loudoun County a year ago, Dan Scanlan opted to miss the Raiders' game against Park View in favor of competing in a prestigious wrestling tournament.

This fall, wrestling will wait.

Scanlan, a two-time Virginia AA wrestling champion, is expected to play a major role on the football field, where he is a projected starter at running back and linebacker.

"He's the guy, offensively and defensively, that I think has the potential of being dominant for us," Coach Pat McManus said of Scanlan, now a senior. "He's so fast and so big . . . it's a combination you don't see a lot.

"Wrestling is his thing, and we know that. But he has dedicated himself to our football team and to being a leader on it. He's one of those guys the rest of the kids will listen to and follow. And for good reason: He's a proven winner."

Scanlan (6-1, 195) went 41-1 on the mat last year, winning the state title at 171 pounds. His only loss came against Bucky Anderson of Broadway, the eventual state champion at 189 pounds. Scanlan boasts two state championships, three AA Dulles District titles in three different weight classes and an overall record of 86-4.

But his focus, for now, is on football. Scanlan has even said he hopes to draw enough attention from recruiters to keep the option of playing college football open.

"Most likely my future plans will be for wrestling because I'm just better at it," Scanlan said. "And there are things about wrestling and the individual nature of it that I love. Everything is on you. But team sports are fun. I'm playing football because I love the sport. And who knows? We'll see how this year goes and see what happens for me."

Scanlan, who averaged 5.5 yards last season on 53 attempts, will have a chance to shine this season, in part because of offseason work that has improved his speed and quickness. McManus said Scanlan probably ranks as his second-fastest player, behind newcomer Cameron Harris, the sixth-place finisher in the 100 meters this past spring at the Virginia AA meet.

"Dan is one of those workaholics who is in the weight room constantly," McManus said. "He's a devout cardiovascular guy who stays in just fantastic shape. And he's done everything he needs to do with weights. He takes his shirt off and he looks like a man. He's so cut it's unreal."

Of course, improving for his senior football season has been just part of his motivation in the gym. Wrestling is never far from his thoughts.

"Yeah, I'm a two-time state champion now," Scanlan said with a smile. "But I'm working on three."

After winning two state wrestling titles, Dan Scanlan is hoping for success in football.