Johnny Leverette Jr. has something to live up to when his Americus Panthers meet Washington County for the state Class AA championship Saturday.
Leverette's father, Johnny Sr., played on back-to-back state championship teams for Americus in 1974-75.
"I know my dad's going to be there, cheering for me and the rest of the team," the younger Leverette said.
The 245-pound defensive tackle has 63 solo tackles, 41 assists and 10 sacks for the Panthers this season.
His father, a 160-pound noseguard, "was one of the best little players we ever had," said former Americus coach Alton Shell. "He wasn't very big, but he was awfully quick, and he was real tough too."
The younger Leverette said he has asked his father for advice about the title game.
"He told me to stay focused and not worry about all those folks in the stands," he said. "He told me to concentrate on the job I have to do."
"I know he'll play a good game," the father said. "I know he'll make me proud."
The Class AA clash in Americus is one of four championship games being played around the state Saturday night.
Brookwood (12-2) visits Valdosta (13-1) for the Class AAAA title, Lakeside (13-1) is at Thomas County Central (13-1) in Class AAA and Putnam County (12-2) will battle Macon County (14-0) for the Class A championship.
Washington County and Americus are both 14-0 going into their showdown at Americus' Finklea-Robinson Field.
The Panthers' John Wilson has been one of the state's top receivers the past three seasons and could establish a state record with a big performance Saturday night. He has 73 receptions this season, six shy of the state mark set by Steve Davenport of Southwest DeKalb in 1984.
Washington County, making its third championship game appearance in five years, is led by quarterback Terrence Edwards.
If the Golden Hawks can defeat Americus, they will extend a streak for their region - 4-AA - which has won the last three state Class AA titles. Greene-Taliaferro won the 1993 title, followed by Washington County in '94 and Elbert County last year.
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