FPD's Orr named All-Middle Georgia wrestler

His is the voice that is routinely caught on home videos, loudly cheering his son to victory.

Likewise, those are his initials that are often scrawled in dirt and occasionally pasted underneath a pair of familiar eyes.

Herman Orr goes everywhere his teenage son goes.

“He’s my biggest fan, and when he can’t be there, I try to always keep him in mind,” said Andre Orr, a three-sport athlete in his senior season at FPD. “When I played football this past fall, I’d write his initials on my eye-black, and whenever I play baseball, I put them in the infield dirt.”

There is good reason Andre Orr clings so close to any image of his father.

A military medical technician based out of Robins Air Force Base, Master Sgt. Herman Orr has been sent all over the world and away from his son. The elder hasn’t been able to see every pass his son intercepted or every base hit he has smacked. But he is still carried onto every field or wrestling mat his son steps onto.

A winner of a 2006 Air Force Medical Service award, Sgt. Orr will be away from Andre Orr once again this summer, when he reports to Iraq for a tour of duty. Last week, he left Middle Georgia to report to a base in Alaska.

“It’s tough, I mean, I wish he could see every game I play, but that’s why I always try to take him onto the field with me,” Andre Orr said.

Despite the unsettling news of his forthcoming deployment, Sgt. Orr has a small reason to smile this week, as he learned that his son has been named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Wrestler of the Year.

Winning his second straight GISA Class AAA individual state championship in the 135-pound weight class, Andre Orr helped lead FPD to a team state title. He also went 26-0 in matches, allowing just 27 points to opponents all season.

“To come back and win again is always one of the hardest things to do in sports,” FPD head coach Ken Garvin said. “That speaks volumes about the hard work and effort Dre put in this year to make it happen yet again.”

Among the training activities Orr completed in anticipation of the wrestling season was playing for the Vikings’ football team. A cornerback, he played football for the first time in his high school career.

“He dedicated himself to the weight room in the offseason trying to get bigger and trying to get more muscle for football,” Garvin said. “That was one of the biggest things he could have done. After football season, it definitely was a different Andre. He got a lot more strength than last year and got even quicker.

“When you combine increased speed and increased strength, that’s deadly. It really is. This year is when he really became a complete wrestler.”

For much of Orr’s four-year wrestling career, the potential was there for him to become a total-packaged wrestler, Garvin said. But for the first three seasons, he focused on his strengths, and exploited them to his full advantage. During those years, he compiled a 74-18 record, and won an individual state and region championship.

“Andre is, what we call in our sport, a ‘shooter,’ ” Garvin said. “That’s the type of wrestler who mainly uses leg shots as their takedown move. He’s so quick and has always done it so well, that that was the thing he focused on the most. But so did his opponents. When people know to look for one move in particular, it can be difficult to adapt and be able to defend against them.”

That’s where increased strength worked in Orr’s favor.

One of the hardest things the wrestler — who is currently competing on FPD’s baseball team, and has been granted preferred walk-on status as a second baseman at Brewton-Parker next fall — had to deal with, was maintaining focus throughout the year.

He credits his teammates, as well as his father for keeping him grounded as he pursued the undefeated mark.

“I was getting my dad and my teammates to push me as hard as they could all season,” Orr said. “Their big thing was, ‘How are you going to finish your season?’ They asked me if I wanted finish it with a second-place trophy and without a state championship, or did I want to come back and achieve the same thing I already achieved my junior year?”

Just like the images of his father, he took those words to heart and followed through with the 135-pound title victory, dropping George Walton wrestler Justin Shumpert in a 4-0 decision in February.

“That win means so much to me, and I know it meant a lot to (my father),” Orr said. “It’s a great accomplishment for me and him. That win was for him.”