Soul's Ross and Dolezel take another shot at Arena title

Posted: August 17, 2013

ORLANDO - The player-coach relationship started in a glorified rodeo pit adjacent to a goat-herding facility in a small West Texas town and has continued through two stops in the Arena Football League.

Derrick Ross appreciates it because, once again, he has a chance for a championship. And he is grateful for Clint Dolezel's mentorship.

"I could go on and on about Coach," Ross said. "He's believed in me. He's turned a nothing into a something."

The Soul running back's sojourn through professional football has been right alongside Dolezel on three teams - the San Angelo Stampede of the Lone Star Football League as well as the Dallas Vigilantes and the Soul in the Arena League.

Without Dolezel by his side, Ross has had cups of coffee in the NFL (Kansas City in 2006) as well as NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League. But this relationship is on the verge of paying off.

The Soul are in the ArenaBowl for the second straight season against the Arizona Rattlers. They will try to avenge last year's loss on Saturday at the Amway Center.

"It's why I'm here, and it's why I've been with Coach Dolezel all this time," Ross said Thursday at ArenaBowl media day. "When I told him I'd follow him to Philly, he came and said: 'We're going to make a run for it.' And here we are."

A former star at Tarleton State in Texas, Ross had a league-high 153 rushing attempts this season. He also led the AFL with 506 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns - uncharacteristic for arena football, where the running back is usually just a fourth receiver or a blocker.

"Look at him - he's not too fun to tackle," Dolezel said. "And it's harder to pass rush us because the other defense has to respect him rushing."

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