Parkview coach Cecil Flowe celebrates after beating Brookwood during the teams' 2004 regular-season game at Brookwood. (File Photo)
LILBURN — Gwinnett County’s longest-serving head football coach is stepping away from the game.
Parkview’s Cecil Flowe, who has guided the Panthers to 196 wins and four state championships over the last 21 seasons, informed his team that he will retire at the end of the 2013 season next month following its 21-13 win over Central Gwinnett on Friday.
Though the announcement seems somewhat sudden, Flowe’s decision wasn’t.
“I made the decision before the start of the (2013 school year) to retire,” said Flowe, who is just four wins short of the 200 milestone with a 196-66 career record. “I wanted to finish with this group of seniors. To be honest, I was going to wait until after the (final) game (of the season to announce it), but I don’t want the focus on me.
“I talked to (Parkview) administration a long time ago, and I didn’t want to have any effect on the school or the kids (going forward in the season). But I decided to go ahead and tell (the team Friday) night.”
Flowe’s coaching career goes back 36 seasons to when he was an assistant coach at Redan 1978.
He was an assistant when took over the Panthers’ program at a very emotional time following the murder of his friend and colleague Chuck Mize in 1993 that shocked the Parkview community.
He not only provided a needed measure of stability during the time of emotional crisis, but also helped guide an already improving program to county- and statewide prominence over the next two decades.
The Panthers won six region titles, and qualified for the state playoffs in 17 of the next 19 seasons, including winning the Class AAAA state title in 1997 and three straight Class AAAAA titles from 2000-02.
Included in that three-year title reign was a streak of 46 consecutive wins, a state record at the time, and still the record for the state’s highest classification.
“Chuck and I, we started together long before we came to Parkview,” Flowe said. “We both thought it was a great place to be, and my intention was to come to Parkview to retire. It was a great place. It still is, but I’ve come to a point where I’m just ready.”
As successful as Parkview has been throughout Flowe’s tenure, the program has hit on tougher times in recent years.
The Panthers have not won a region championship since 2004, missed the playoffs in 2009 after 15 straight appearances, and are 2-6 after tonight’s win.
However, Flowe said his decision to retire, which will take effect in December, has nothing to do with the recent struggles, nor is it health-related.
He said he took a cue from other well-known coaches from his generation in recognizing when the time was right to step away.
“When (former McEachern coach) Jimmy Dorsey retired (in 2007), when (former Northside-Warner Robins coach) Conrad (Nix) retired (in 2009), when (former Brookwood coach) Dave (Hunter) retired (in 2001), they knew when the time was right for them,” Flowe said. “I’ve finally reached my time. I’ve gotten my years in, and I’m ready to slow down. … It’s just a good time. I’m ready to do something else.
“Now, I’m not going to sit on my butt and do nothing, but … it’s gotten to the point where I need a break. There’s nothing wrong. I just need to regroup and see what else there is out there for me to do.”