No. 1: East Lincoln football finishes 16-0, wins 2A state championship
The 2012 East Lincoln Mustangs varsity football team had the best year a team can possibly have.
The Mustangs won all 16 of their games for the first perfect season in school history and closed the year out with a 24-20 win over the Tarboro Vikings in the 2A state championship game on Dec. 1 for the first football state championship in school history.
Senior quarterback Garrett Young set new records in nearly every Lincoln County passing category along the way, senior wide receiver Jesse Earnhardt became the county’s all-time leading receiver for a single season and freshman wide receiver/quarterback/defensive back Chazz Surratt showed good things are in East Lincoln’s future.
The Mustangs’ explosive spread offense helped Young pass for 3,751 yards with seven season interceptions for 47 touchdowns. Earnhardt had 78 receptions for 1,352 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior Tyler Brock led East Lincoln with 14 receiving touchdowns and Surratt had 55 catches for 1,095 yards and 13 touchdowns.
East Lincoln allowed 17 points per game and returns all but one starter on its four-man defensive front.
Head coach Mike Byus was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year for North Carolina.
No. 2: West Lincoln wrestling coach Butch Ross inducted into National Wrestling Hall of Fame
Butch Ross and West Lincoln wrestling are almost synonymous. The head coach’s dedication to the school’s wrestling program led to national recognition early in the year.
Ross was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in May, and received the organization’s “Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award” at a ceremony in Chapel Hill.
Ross has led the Rebels to a 442-115 record since taking over the program in 1996. He wrestled at both West Lincoln and Appalachian State University and coached wrestling at West Lincoln Middle School after graduating from college.
No. 3: North Lincoln hires David Maness as head football coach
North Lincoln announced the hiring of head football coach David Maness in February after the team endured three dismal seasons in a row — finishing 1-10 in 2011, 2-9 in 2010 and 1-10 in 2009.
Maness’s hiring made him the third North Lincoln head football coach in the span of a year after Scott Stillwell was relieved in the weeks before the 2011 season and Zach Bevilacqua’s exit after North Lincoln’s one-win season in 2011.
His impact was felt immediately — the team made a change at quarterback in the fourth week of the season and Maness led the Knights to a 3-8 record, with wins over Highland Tech and Bessemer City and an upset of West Lincoln.
The team closed out the year strong, winning three out of its five final games and finishing in sixth place in the eight-team Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference.
No. 4: Lincolnton basketball coach Bob Cowie gets 200th win
Lincolnton head basketball coach Bob Cowie reached the 200-win milestone for his coaching career in the Wolves’ 72-54 defeat of Lake Norman Charter in January.
Cowie began coaching at Lincolnton in 1998. The 2011-2012 basketball team finished as co-champions in the Southern Piedmont Conference and exited the playoffs in the second round after losing to West Caldwell 52-50 in overtime.
No. 5: North Lincoln boys cross-country team wins 2A state title
The North Lincoln boys cross-country team took the 2A state title for the second year in a row in November.
Andrew Fea finished second overall in the state championship race. Chris Boyle finished fourth and Ryan Shannon and Josh Mosteller both finished in the top 15 runners in the meet.