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From Americus to the Super Bowl

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By Joey Donia - bio | email

January 29, 2009

Tampa, FL (WALB) - 

Before there was Americus-Sumter High School, there was Americus High. In the early part of the decade Panther football was at its' best; Two years and two state championships.

"You know they don't come along very often and it's very seldom you get a chance to win a game like that. It takes special players to get there too" said former Americus head coach Eric Soliday.

One of those special players was a big kid named Leonard Pope.

"Very physical football player, you knew he had that mean streak about him and that different edge that most kids don't have" said Soliday.

It was a different edge that took Leonard a long way. Just about seven years later and Pope is getting ready to play in one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl.

 "Man it's crazy, it's almost like a dream come true I mean I'm sitting here in my third year in the NFL and you know I just take it as a blessing you know a lot of people kind of counted us out throughout the year and we didn't get down and we're in Tampa" said Pope.

Much like many doubted the Cardinals, there was a time when Leonard doubted himself.

"I never honestly thought that I'd be able to suceed as much as I have right now you know. Like I said it comes from hard work and just keep working and I just keep chopping away at it."

And after all the success Pope hasn't forgotten where it all began.

"You know what we had to go through you know my teamates. We all came as a team then and from there I learned to become a great leader and just to carry it on in my life and just try to which ever part I have in football just try to learn from that."

 From the Friday night lights in Americus to football's most coveted game. South Georgia has one of their very own to cheer for on one of the biggest stages in the world.

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