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SPORTS STORIES OF THE YEAR: A look at Gwinnett's top headlines

Parkview’s Cecil Flowe, Gwinnett’s all-time winningest football coach, retired after the 2013 season.

Parkview’s Cecil Flowe, Gwinnett’s all-time winningest football coach, retired after the 2013 season.

» Parkview’s Flowe retires

Parkview’s Cecil Flowe, Gwinnett’s all-time winningest football coach, retired after the 2013 season.

Flowe spent 21 years as the head coach at Parkview, compiling a 197-67 record with four state championships and six region titles. Parkview reached the state playoffs 17 times under Flowe, including 11 straight seasons to the state quarterfinals or beyond.

One of the highlights of Flowe’s career was a run of three straight state championships in the highest classification and a then state record 46-game winning streak. It still stands as the longest winning streak in Georgia’s largest class.

RELATED LINKS:

» Longtime Parkview football coach Cecil Flowe announces retirement

» HAMMOCK: Flowe deserving of special tribute at Parkview

» CLINE: Cecil Flowe leaves a legacy at Parkview

» PREP FOOTBALL NOTES: Flowe's retirement announcement not a complete surprise


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Four Norcross teams won state championships during the 2013 calendar year, including football, boys and girls basketball and boys golf.

» Norcross’ banner year

It was a big year for the Norcross athletic program with four teams winning state championships during the 2013 calendar year. The boys and girls basketball, boys golf and football teams all won state titles.

The boys and girls basketball teams began by winning state championships in March. The Norcross boys won the state title for the second time in three years and fifth in eight years.

The Norcross girls won the state championship for the third time in four years. The Blue Devils were led by North Carolina signee Diamond DeShields, who was honored as the Naismith National Player of the Year.

The boys golf team won the state championship in May at the Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton by edging Region 7-AAAAAA rival Peachtree Ridge by two strokes. It was the second-ever boys golf state championship in Gwinnett history. Zach Healy was the low-medalist to win the individual state championship.

The Blue Devils’ football team then repeated as state champion in December by beating North Gwinnett in the state finals at the Georgia Dome.

RELATED LINKS:

» Adjustments help Norcross gain redemption, second straight title with 31-14 win over North

» Second state title also brings redemption for Norcross football

» Goodwin powers Norcross to state title

» Blue Devils take season series, state title from North

» Norcross' banner year continues with state golf championship


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Brian McCann’s nine-year career with the Atlanta Braves ended in December when the Duluth grad signed with the New York Yankees.

» Duluth grad McCann leaves Braves for Yankees

Brian McCann’s nine-year career with the Atlanta Braves ended in December when the Duluth grad signed with the New York Yankees.

McCann was a seven-time all-star and a five-time Silver Slugger award winner with the Braves, who drafted him directly out of high school in 2002. He made six consecutive all-star appearances from 2006-11 in his first six full major league seasons, establishing a franchise record.

McCann, 29, received a five-year, $85 million free agent contract with the Yankees.

RELATED LINKS:

» Duluth's Brian McCann agrees to $85M deal with Yankees

» Yankees' signing of Gwinnett's Brian McCann is official

» http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2013/dec/05/mccann-says-goodbye-to-braves-and-no-16/


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Meadowcreek’s football program snapped a five-year losing streak by beating Habersham Central 21-14 in October.

» Meadowcreek football snaps five-year losing streak

Meadowcreek’s football program snapped a five-year losing streak by beating Habersham Central 21-14 in October. The win ended the Mustangs’ 53-game losing streak, dating back to Sept. 5, 2008.

Running back Ryan Moore rushed for 165 yards on 23 carries carries to also give Meadowcreek its first region win since Nov. 11, 1997, when it defeated Newton 13-3. The Mustangs had gone 91 straight region games without a victory.

RELATED LINKS:

» Streak finally over for Meadowcreek football team

» Prep football notes: Meadowcreek win ends even longer streak

» COLUMN: Meadowcreek football win special in more ways than one


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Wesleyan’s girls basketball team tied a state record by winning their sixth straight state championship in 2013.

» Wesleyan’s Azar, Wolves reach milestones

Wesleyan’s girls basketball team tied a state record by winning their sixth straight state championship in 2013.

Head coach Jan Azar, who started the program from scratch in 1997, also won her 400th game in January.

Wesleyan defeated Laney 76-43 in the Class AA state finals to give the Wolves their 10th state crown all-time. The sixth straight championship and 10th all-time title overall ties state records for girls basketball teams.

RELATED LINKS:

» Wesleyan girls give Azar victory No. 400

» Seniors lead Wesleyan girls to sixth straight title


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Maya Moore won three girls basketball state championships at Collins Hill. The Minnesota Lynx star returned to Gwinnett this year to win another championship.

» Moore returns to Gwinnett for another title

Maya Moore won three girls basketball state championships at Collins Hill. The Minnesota Lynx star returned to Gwinnett this year to win another championship.

Moore helped the Lynx win the WNBA title over the Atlanta Dream at the same Arena at Gwinnett Center where she also won her state championships as a high-schooler. The finals’ shift to Gwinnett that brought Moore back home was necessary because the Dream’s usual home, Philips Arena, was occupied with another event.

Moore was named the finals MVP after scoring 23 points in the clinching game.

The WNBA title was the second for Moore, who also won a pair of NCAA titles at Connecticut and a gold medal at the 2012 summer Olympics.

RELATED LINKS:

» Moore revels in happy homecoming

» Moore rewards crowd of supporters with WNBA title

» VIDEO: Behind the Scenese ... with WNBA champ Maya Moore

» PHOTOS: Maya Moore returns to Gwinnett

» Moore's excited for WNBA Finals in Gwinnett


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Grayson’s Austin Meadows was selected No. 9 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. Here, Meadows shakes the hand of his grandfather, Ken.

» Grayson’s Meadows taken in first round of MLB draft

Grayson’s Austin Meadows was selected No. 9 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. Meadows became the highest-selected Gwinnett County player ever in the MLB draft.

As a senior centerfielder with Grayson, Meadows hit .535 with four home runs, 28 RBIs, 29 runs and 17 stolen bases to help the team reach the state playoffs.

RELATED LINKS:

» Grayson's Meadows picked 9th by Pirates in MLB Draft

» Grayson's Meadows lives up to his billing by staying focused

» Meadows off to hot start in pro career


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Brian Snitker, who lives in Lilburn, was hired as the G-Braves manager in October.

» Lilburn’s Snitker to manage G-Braves

The Gwinnett Braves will be led by a local resident this season. Brian Snitker, who lives in Lilburn, was hired as the G-Braves manager in October.

He replaced Randy Ready, who spent one season as the G-Braves’ manager. Gwinnett was 60-84, the worst record in the International League, in Ready’s only season. Ready took over for Dave Brundage, who had been the club’s first and only manager.

Snitker was previously the third-base coach for the Atlanta Braves and also managed the Richmond Braves in 2006, part of his long career as a Braves minor-league coach.

RELATED LINKS:

» Gwinnett Braves name new manager

» BRAVES NOTES: Dismuke replaced as Gwinnett hitting coach


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Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1-rated college prospect in the Class of 2013, signed with Ole Miss on National Signing Day in February.

» Grayson’s Nkemdiche signs with Ole Miss

Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1-rated college prospect in the Class of 2013, signed with Ole Miss on National Signing Day in February.

Nkemdiche verbally committed to Clemson in the summer of 2012, but had a change of heart on Signing Day. The defensive end highlighted the most talented senior class to come through Gwinnett.

Gwinnett County had 119 signees, which included 39 to Division I programs and 20 to Division I-BCS teams. It was the most signees ever produced by the county.

RELATED LINKS:

» Grayson's Nkemdiche signs with Ole Miss

» 2013 National Signing Day in Gwinnett

» Gwinnett has another big year on signing day

» Gwinnett County signees by high school

» Gwinnett County signees by college


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Auburn football’s rise from SEC cellar in 2012 to conference champion in 2013 was helped by three Gwinnett County products, including North Gwinnett’s C.J. Uzomah (pictured, 81), Norcross’ Ben Bradley and Parkview’s Kenny Flowers

» Gwinnett trio help Auburn win SEC title, reach BCS title game

Auburn football’s rise from SEC cellar in 2012 to conference champion in 2013 was helped by three Gwinnett County products.

North Gwinnett’s C.J. Uzomah, Norcross’ Ben Bradley and Parkview’s Kenny Flowers all played roles in helping the Tigers win the SEC title and reach Monday’s BCS National Championship game.

Uzomah was an All-SEC selection at tight end in Auburn’s high-scoring offense. He had nine catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Bradley started three games on the defensive line and was a regular part of the rotation, while Flowers played in 12 games, predominantly on special teams.

RELATED LINKS:

» Uzomah big part of Auburn's thrilling Iron Bowl win, turnaround season

» Three Gwinnett grads named to AP All-SEC Team

» North's Uzomah catches game-winning TD for Auburn in waning seconds

» Gwinnett grads relish roles in Auburn's SEC title

» PHOTOS: SEC Championship game


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Buford’s football program continued its winning ways in 2013 by claiming the Class AAA state championship, the sixth title in seven years for the Wolves.

» Buford football continues to shine

Buford’s football program continued its winning ways in 2013 by claiming the Class AAA state championship. It was the sixth title in seven years for the Wolves, who have won nine championships since 2001 and 10 all-time.

To add to Buford’s success, the Wolves’ offense set the state scoring record. Buford scored 707 points to break the old mark of 682 points by Dublin in 2006. Head coach Jess Simpson improved his record as Buford’s head coach to an astonishing 123-8, a 93.9 winning percentage.

RELATED LINKS:

» Buford rallies to defend state title, beat Washington County 35-19

» PHOTOS: Buford Class AAA State Champions

» STATE FINALS NOTES: Buford sets state scoring record

» Big, bad Wolves recover from early deficit to regain swagger, title

» VIDEO: Buford Wolves Class AAA State Football Champions


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Norcross grad Jeff Backus retired in March from the Detroit Lions after 12 seasons.

» Norcross grad Backus retires from NFL

A cornerstone of the Detroit Lions’ offensive line for 12 seasons, Norcross grad Jeff Backus retired in March.

Backus made a franchise-record 187 consecutive starts for the Lions after being selected in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Michigan.

While at Michigan, Backus started 49 straight games and was a member of the Wolverines’ 1997 national championship team.

RELATED LINKS:

» Norcross product Backus announces retirement from NFL


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The Gwinnett Football League won the Football University Eighth Grade National Championship in January -- coached by Buford’s Ken Burge.

» GFL wins national championship

Gwinnett County has built a reputation of producing some of the nation’s top high school football players.

The county’s youth program also made national headlines in 2013. The Gwinnett Football League won the Football University Eighth Grade National Championship in January. The team, coached by Buford’s Ken Burge, defeated Team Colorado 32-6 in the finals at the Alamodome.

This year’s GFL eighth-grade team is back in San Antonio for the Final Four of the FBU national championship event.

RELATED LINKS:

» Team North Georgia wins FBU national title

» YOUTH ROUNDUP: Team North Georgia advances to FBU finals


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Georgia Gwinnett College defeated Ashford 3-0 in November to win the school’s first American Independent Institution championship.

» GGC soccer wins championship

Georgia Gwinnett College’s young men’s soccer soccer program enjoyed a lot of firsts in 2013.

The Grizzles defeated Ashford 3-0 in November to win the school’s first American Independent Institution championship.

With the conference title, GGC was able to advance to the national tournament in the program’s first year of postseason eligiblity and second year of existence.

RELATED LINKS:

» GGC men clinch league championship

» Grizzlies get rematch in NAIA tournament opener

» Georgia Gwinnett College men's soccer to open national tourney this weekend

» Grizzlies suffer 1-0 loss in NAIA tournament opener