Shawn Creed has been playing football since he was six years old. With his graduation from East Surry High School less than two months away, he decided he wasn’t ready to stop just yet.
Creed, a standout wide receiver on this year’s Northwest 1-A Conference champions, announced on Wednesday that he would be the the latest member of the unforgettable 2015 team who will extend his athletic career. The six-footer will play college football at N.C. Wesleyan College beginning this fall.
It’s just the next stop in a journey that began back in August, and who knows where it will end?
When Creed reported to the Cardinals for preseason practice, he had no idea what was in store that fall. All he knew was that East Surry was going to be strong. At the time, he hadn’t even thought about playing football at the next level.
“I didn’t imagine (our season) would be that big, but I knew we would be good,” he said. We all kind of knew that, because we worked really hard. We didn’t expect to beat some of the teams we beat, but it just happened.”
During the preseason, the coaching staff assigned Creed to a starting role at wide receiver and at outside linebacker, the latter of which was a bit of a surprise.
“He developed as as a wide receiver for us and allowed us to throw the football a lot. He balanced the field, ran great routes, and then we moved him on defense,” said East Surry head coach David Diamont. “He ended up being a linebacker. He had no fear. He was not a kid we thought was going to be an inside linebacker for us, but he had an excellent year.
A year after finishing just ninth on the team with 45 tackles in 12 games, Creed was second on the 2015 team with with 94, including 10 for losses, and also grabbed two interceptions. He also made a huge impact on the offensive side, where he and Blake Marion teamed up as the wideouts and created serious problems for opposing defenses. East Surry passed for a whopping 2,736 yards, with Creed accounting for 767 of those on 35 receptions.
“He made some fabulous catches for us,” said Diamont. “Everyone knew we were going to throw the ball. Everyone knew Blake Marion was a premier receiver. But any time a team tried to double-cover Blake, they had to face Shawn. They couldn’t concentrate on one receiver or one side of the field, because of Shawn Creed.”
In the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Cardinals beat county rivals Surry Central and North Surry, and also handed eventual Western Piedmont 2-A champ West Stokes its only regular-season loss, downing the Wildcats 42-28 on their own field. Ultimately, it was conference rival Walkertown that spoiled the dream season in the quarterfinals of the 1AA state playoffs, but that was still in the future when Creed and his teammates traveled to play the Wolfpack last Oct. 9. Walkertown came in with a 3-4 record while the Cardinals were 5-0, but everyone on the East Surry team knew that meant little—the Wolfpack had lost to three strong 4A schools from Forsyth County and by three points to West Stokes. Walkertown was actually a 2A size school and has since been reclassified as such.
The contest was rated as a virtual toss-up, and the Wolfpack led 21-17 at halftime after a first half that featured three lead changes. But East Surry controlled the game after the break and went on for a 37-21 victory.
“It’s always nice to beat Mount Airy, but I would say that Walkertown was the biggest win,” Creed said. “It was at their place, and we knew they would be our toughest opponent of the year. If we beat them, we knew we had the conference championship in our hands.”
For a time after that, it appeared as if nothing would stop the Cardinals. The win over Walkertown was part of a stretch where East Surry played and won three games in eight days—they were forced to because of bad weather—en route to a perfect 11-0 regular season that culminated with a win over the Granite Bears. Playoff wins over Pine Lake Prep and East Montgomery followed, setting the stage for a rematch with Walkertown.
The old adage about trying to beat a good team twice caught up with the Cardinals, who lost the turnover battle in the rematch, something that had been crucial to their win two and a half months earlier. East Surry’s brilliant 13-1 season ended in a 28-14 loss to the Wolfpack.
Creed and several of his teammates moved on to basketball season, where the undersized team scrapped and hustled its way to a third-place NW1A finish and automatic state playoff berth in a league whose top two teams swapped the state’s No. 1 ranking for most of the season.
By this time, Creed, who has played football since he was six years old, had decided he wanted to play on. He enlisted the help of the East Surry coaches.
“It wasn’t really a goal of mine until late in the season, when I realized it was coming to an end and I wouldn’t get to play again,” he said. “Then I decided I wanted to play college football.
“Coach (Steve) Whitt and Coach (Joe Reid) Denny sent a lot of my tapes out to different schools, and (Wesleyan) just came here to talk to us one day,” he said. “I just took a liking to them.”
Wesleyan and USA South Conference rival Methodist University both actively recruited Creed, but he said that he preferred Rocky Mount and the Battling Bishops’ program over that of the Monarchs.
The Bishops posted a 5-5 record last fall, but finished strong, with five wins in their last six games after starting out 0-4. The winning streak propelled them to a second-place finish in the league standings.
Creed wasn’t guaranteed anything, but is expected to contend for a role on the team at wide receiver and possibly at cornerback.
“If I work hard, I will see the field,” he said.
At least one local expert on the subject of football is looking forward to seeing what Creed can do at Wesleyan.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a smart kid, and I’m glad he’s having the chance to extend his athletic and academic career at a good school,” said Diamont, who already has two former players playing for the Bishops. “I look forward to going down and watching him play on Saturday.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.