Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Alvin Kamara, left, and Mill Creek's Jacorey Lewis, right, are the Daily Post's Offensive Players of the Year.
Shannon Jarvis will be the first to tell you, Mill Creek wouldn't have been as successful this year without Jacorey Lewis.
"The role he had in our offense, that's not surprising," Jarvis said. "Our success this year can be directly pointed to him on offense."
Norcross head coach Keith Maloof echoes the same sentiments about his running back, Alvin Kamara.
"I'd like to say we would have won it without him, but Alvin was one of the main reasons we won a state championship," Maloof said.
Lewis and Kamara, the Daily Post's Co-Offensive Players of the Year, had two of the most prolific seasons ever for Gwinnett County running backs.
Lewis rushed for 2,317 yards to help the Hawks reach the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals, while Kamara rushed for 2,264 yards to help Norcross win the Class AAAAAA state championship.
"That was one of my personal goals," Kamara said of the 2,000-yard milestone.
Lewis and Kamara expanded the elite group of 2,000-yard rushers in Gwinnett to 12. Lewis' rushing total ranks No. 7 all-time and Kamara ranks No. 11. It's the fourth time in county history that two running backs have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in the same season. Brookwood's Mark Townsend and Parkview's Brett Millican did it in 1994, Buford's Darius Walker and Parkview's Brad Lester did it in 2003 and Brookwood's Cameron Smith and Parkview's Caleb King did it in 2005.
"I am kind of surprised," Lewis said of his rushing performance.
Lewis rushed for 1,012 yards as a junior and never imagined the breakout senior year. He broke every major Mill Creek rushing record, including rushing yards in a game (357), season (2,317) and career (3,329).
"Obviously, you can look at stats and see how much of a percentage of our offense he was," Jarvis said. "I think what you can't tell is how good of a teammate he was. That's the way its been his whole career at Mill Creek, very unselfish."
Lewis rushed for more than 300 yards twice -- 301 against Duluth and 357 against Alpharetta in the playoffs. He had 10 games of 100 yards rushing or more, including 215 against Dacula and 252 vs. Brookwood in the playoffs. His lowest total was 77 yards against Collins Hill. On top of all that he had 31 rushing TDs.
"He meant a lot to us and he was one piece of our puzzle of our team's offensive success, but obviously he was a huge piece that we couldn't have done without," Jarvis said.
The same can be said about Kamara. The senior is rated as one of the nation's top running backs. Despite having colleges recruiting him everyday, he put all of it to the side. He didn't take official visits to colleges or routinely talk to college coaches.
"I made it clear I was putting recruiting aside until we reached our goal and that was a state championship," Kamara said. "All my teammates and my coaches were behind me in my decision. I think that was the best decision to make to keep me focused and the team focused."
Now that the season is over, Kamara plans to take some official visits. He hasn't set a timetable on when he'll make a decision, although National Signing Day is less than two months away.
He still considers Alabama and Georgia his co-leaders, but is also interested in Oregon and possibly some other schools.
"I'm still open to see what happens," he said.
Kamara showed why he's so highly recruited, especially late in the season. He had some of his biggest games against the state's top teams.
He rushed for 158 yards against Camden County in the playoffs and followed that up with a 135-yard performance against Colquitt County.
"We told him, come playoff time be ready to carry the load and he was able to. He's one of the reasons we're 15-0," Maloof said.
Kamara had his most memorable game in the state finals. He caught a 61-yard pass to spark the team's fourth-quarter comeback and cemented the school's first state title with a 10-yard touchdown run. He finished with 119 yards rushing to go along with the big catch in the state finals.
"I try not to hold the trophy over my head," Kamara said. "I played my part as a leader and returning starter. It was a team effort this year."
Kamara had 12 games of 100 yards rushing or more, including the final 11 of the season. His biggest outburst was 312 yards and three TDs against Collins Hill. It was all part of the Blue Devils' road to state prominence.
"We had a great season, obviously, winning the state championship," Kamara said.