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Rodgers keeping Creswell football alive

By By PETER WILLIAMS, Staff Writer
If just 16 players showed up for football practice, most high school coaches would view it as a disaster.
Creswell’s Wayne Rodgers views it as a bumper crop. There are, after all, only 36 boys in the entire school, so roughly half of those came out to practice this week.
Creswell didn’t use to be so small.
Rodgers hopes to have four starting players back, all of them juniors. That includes Ralphon Owens, who played running back and back-up quarterback last year as well as safety on defense. Quarterback Shivon Spear is expected to return at quarterback. He’ll get the snap from center, Justin Ambrose. Ambrose is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds.
The entire school had just 90 students last year in grades 7-12. Rodgers has been at it for more than 20 years as head coach for the Tigers, but coaching off and on for 30 years.
Rodgers was assistant football coach at Plymouth High School between 1984 and 1987. When a teaching slot opened at Creswell, he returned home.
The Tigers play in the Tideland Conference, which pits them against the same four teams twice in one season. The other teams are Mattamuskeet, Cape Hatteras, Jamesville and Columbia. There is a non-conference season opener scheduled for Aug. 23 at Creswell against the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf. Last year the Tigers won 38-0 and also posted wins of 29-0 and 28-0 over Cape Hatteras.
Some players complain about not getting enough playing time.
The games against Columbia is also a big test. The Tigers dropped a 21-20 decision early last season and lost 37-6 in the next-to-last game of the season.