Athletes will be on display

Published 12:51 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

By Staff
Commentary by KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
It takes some talented athletes to carry teams deep into the playoffs. There certainly won’t be a shortage of stars when the Creswell Tigers and Williamston Tigers meet in tonight’s third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1A state football playoffs.
Williamston (8-5), no stranger to making serious runs in the postseason, has serious talent on both sides of the ball. Emery Griggs is one of the best players in the state. Williamston’s quarterback, who sort of stumbled into that position, has a strong arm, quick feet and a gritty persona that you want in a leader.
On the defensive side of the ball, you don’t have to look any farther than the beasts that man the middle, senior linebackers DeBrian and DeBriant Everett. The two help spearhead a sack-happy Williamston squad.
Creswell (10-1) has some talent of its own. Ralphon Owens may play in a conference (Tideland) that many football fans don’t pay much attention to, but Owens has certainly opened some eyes. The senior is a threat to score from anywhere and anytime on the field. He’s played running back, tight end and linebacker for the Creswell Tigers. Owens has found the end zone so many times this year, he may as well call it his second home.
He has eight interceptions, which is among the best in the state.
Sophomore Sawyer Timell has galloped for over 1,000 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.
Quarterback Shivon Spear hasn’t had to throw the ball much but, when he does, he’s deadly accurate.
Along with Owens, freshman Danvonta Phelps is a nuisance in the secondary. He’s come up with six interceptions.
One of these teams will play for an East Regional championship next week. The winner of tonight’s game, which kicks off at 7:30 in Creswell, will either play host to No. 4 seed Weldon (11-1) or visit No. 1 seed Jones Senior (12-1).
Along with talented athletes, a good coach is needed to lead his team to success. Wayne Rodgers, who has over 100 wins in a 22-year head coaching career at Creswell, has done a phenomenal job with a limited number of players.
I’m always amazed Rodgers can field a team, let alone a competitive one.
The affable coach, who has more than 30 years coaching and teaching experience, knows both sides of winning and losing. An assistant coach in the 2007 East-West All-Star game, Rodgers has led his team to a 17-4 record over the last two years.
This year’s Creswell team has been dominant, outscoring opponents 396 to 78 (36.0 to 7.09). The orange-and-blue Tigers, the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, have won 10 straight, including five by shutout. The 18 points allowed to Perquimans in last week’s 20-18 win in the second round of the state playoffs was just the second time this season a team has scored double digits on the Tigers. The other came in a season-opening 30-20 loss to Harrells Christian, a school that went on to win the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II championship.
Coach Asim McGill has done a marvelous job in getting his team to peak at the right time. Williamston, the No. 3 seed, is on a roll of its own. The green-and-yellow Tigers have won five straight, and have outscored the opposition 351 to 267 (27.0 to 20.54).
McGill’s team was 3-5 after a 40-0 loss to Plymouth, but Williamston rebounded brilliantly.
During its five-game winning streak, Williamston has scored at least 40 points in four of those games.
Two teams, led by some shining stars and two splendid coaches, meet on the gridiron tonight. One goes home. One will play for a regional championship, and the right to play for a state championship.
Kevin Travis is the sports editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at