A few years ago they took down the water towers along I-85 that read "Gwinnett Is Great" and "Success Lives Here."
The towers may be gone, but the motto still stands for Gwinnett County football teams.
The county continued its dominance in high school football last weekend by winning a pair of state championships. Buford won the Class AAA title, its fifth in six years, and Norcross captured the Class AAAAAA championship, the first in school history.
Norcross' crown continues Gwinnett's run in the largest classification, following Brookwood (2010) and Grayson (2011) who won titles the last two years.
If you're keeping track, and I am, that's 16 state states won by Gwinnett football teams in various classifications since 2000.
A few weeks ago at the Gwinnett County Touchdown Club banquet, co-executive director Dave Hunter told the crowd of 600 people there's no better place for high school football in the country.
I thought it was a bold statement at the time. But when you look at the success of teams and individual players, he may be right.
There's no better place to be on a Friday night in Gwinnett than watching a high school football game. Too bad we have to wait another eight months for that again.
Buford re-built in a year
When Buford graduated more than 30 seniors and lost 20 starters from the 2011 team, I thought it might take the Wolves a couple of years to return to the state finals.
I knew they still had a playoff caliber team, but I never expected what they accomplished this year.
Buford won the Class AAA championship with a team full of sophomores and juniors. Their record will officially go down as 12-3 due to a pair of games forfeited for a clerical error involving the use of an ineligible player. Buford's only other loss was 19-15 to Gainesville, who won the Class AAAAA state title. The defeat came without Buford's starting running back Dontravious Wilson.
With what Buford accomplished this season, it doesn't look like the Wolves are going away anytime soon. You can expect another title run for years to come.
Norcross' resilience leads to title
When Norcross fumbled the ball late in the third quarter on their own side of the field, it looked like the Blue Devils were doomed.
But the Norcross defense came up with a big stop and then Alvin Kamara scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils to the state championship.
It was one of the few times Norcross tailed in the second half of a game this year. But the Blue Devils never flinched. They were accustomed to winning and found a way to end their year with a perfect 15-0 record.
Kamara and the Norcross offense get most of the attention, but it was the defense that came up with big stop after big stop to secure the title.
Patient coaches rewarded
Norcross head coach Keith Maloof won his first state title in his 14th year at the school.
In a day and age when people want instant success, Maloof had to be patient in building the Blue Devils into a winner.
He follows a trend of other successful coaches. Brookwood's Mark Crews won his first state title two years ago in his ninth year as the Broncos' head coach. Grayson's Mickey Conn won a state championship in his 12th year at Grayson.
All three coaches have had to go through tough seasons and when fans didn't agree with their decisions, they stuck to what they thought was right. It's something to keep in mind before hoping for your team's coach to be fired or quit. In Gwinnett, if you give a coach time, he'll produce a winner.
For three years, a different Gwinnett County team has won the state title in the highest classification. Will the 2013 season see another school win it all?
North Gwinnett has been knocking on the door the last few years. Mill Creek and South Gwinnett's programs have emerged in recent years. I could see any of those schools winning their first state title soon. But I'm still not counting out previous winners Norcross, Grayson and Brookwood.
Corky Kell Classic announced
The high school football season just ended on Saturday, but it's not too soon to start looking at next year's games.
The 22nd annual Corky Kell Classic, which will be played Aug. 24 at the Georgia Dome, will feature the same Gwinnett teams from this season.
Here's the list of games.
• 9 a.m. — Kell vs. Chattahoochee
• 11:45 a.m. — Peachtree Ridge vs. Walton
• 2:45 p.m. — Grayson vs. Colquitt County
• 5:30 p.m. — North Gwinnett vs. Camden County
• 8:30 p.m. — Brookwood vs. McEachern
Gwinnett all-star game
If you're not ready for the high school football season to end, then you can check out some more football this weekend.
The Rivalries of Gwinnett all-star game will be on Friday at 7 p.m. at Peachtree Ridge High School. The game will feature the county's top senior players.
Daily Post all-county team
The Daily Post will release its all-county team on Sunday. The all-county team will likely have some different names from the coaches all-county team that was released last week.
Who are some players we should consider for the all-county team?