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Forest Park’s Williams has ‘happy’ homecoming

Special Photo
Forest Park’s wrestling team has been collecting a lot of hardware this season. The latest addition to the trophy case was a third place finish at the Last Man Standing tournament over the weekend.

Special Photo Forest Park’s wrestling team has been collecting a lot of hardware this season. The latest addition to the trophy case was a third place finish at the Last Man Standing tournament over the weekend.

Don Williams returned to familar surroundings on Saturday with his latest wrestling team when Forest Park competed in the Last Man Standing tournament at Eagle’s Landing High.

Williams worked at Eagle’s Landing from its inception in 1990 until 2002.

The Panthers made it a pleasant homecoming by placing third in the 24-team field. Meadowcreek was first, Rockmart second, followed by Forest Park and then host Eagle’s Landing.

“It was pretty nice winning over there,” said Williams, who led Eagle’s Landing to the 1998 Class AAA title. “I’m still good friends with a lot of those coaches over there. I’ve got so many memories over there.”

And so far, this is becoming a memorable season at Forest Park. The Panthers won the area duals for its first title in the program’s history.

Saturday’s third-place finish was special since it came down to the last match for the Panthers to clinch. Forest Park’s Leon Butts got a 6-2 decision in the 182-pound division which gave the Panthers a one-point win over Eagle’s Landing 38-37.

“Coming off the duals, we were sort of flat,” Williams said. “I think this tournament will help us start to jell.”

In addition to Butts, Jarius Leavy won at 220. Tyrik Ball was runner-up at 160 and Kyle Nelson (152) and Blake Kennedy (170) were fourth in their divisions. Tavarez Clark placed fifth at 145 to help score points for the Panthers.

A day before competing the tournament, Forest Park defeated Glenn Hills 36-30 in its final home match of the season.

Williams is preparing his team for the Area 4-AAAA traditional tournament at Mount Zion on Feb. 3. Although the team won the area dual tournament, Williams said that Lovejoy is still the team to beat in area traditionals.

“They have a team built for tournament,” said Williams, who was a co-head coach at Lovejoy last season. “We know it will be a tall order going up against them in the tournament. I think this team is starting to jell at the right time.”