Aug. 23, 2011
Billy Creason looking for a breakout year
Imagine working hard, paying your dues and finally getting the opportunity to play a sport you love.
After struggling in the first game, everything starts to click and you quickly become an integral part of a national championship team.
Although it is the nature of the game, you suffer a serious injury that derails the rest of your season.
To make matters worse, you suffer another injury during spring drills.
The cruelest part of this injury saga is you get hurt again in the fourth practice of fall camp.
You have just entered the football world of Northwest Missouri State junior running back Billy Creason.
"It stinks," he said. "It feels like I'm battling injuries left and right because in the spring I dislocated my elbow so I couldn't practice in the spring. I've been sitting out a lot. I've been doing a lot of mental reps."
His latest setback is a hamstring injury to his left leg. Northwest started practice on Aug. 11. On Aug. 14, Creason was back in the training room.
Two days later, he talked getting hurt again. It was easy to sense his disappointment. Creason wants to play football.
At 5-foot-10 and a rock-solid 200 pounds, Creason has all the tools to be one of the top running backs in the MIAA.
Creason arrived at Northwest from Grain Valley, a high school known for its hard-nosed football. In just a small sample at Northwest, Creason demonstrated that style.
His first game last season was a bit of a struggle. He gained just 18 yards in 6 carries in a 16-7 loss to Texas A&M-Kingsville.
By the second week, Creason started to find his stride, rushing for 54 yards in 7 carries. One run went for 28 yards. He also scored a touchdown.
Creason was even better in week three, going for 169 yards in 21 carries, including three touchdowns. He had one run of 38 yards.
"You can't really explain it," Creason said. "You got to be there and feel it to understand what I'm talking about. Once you are rolling, you are rolling and I was rolling."
Indeed. In Creason's first carry of the fourth game, he broke off a 21-yard run against rival Missouri Western. Unfortunately, it was his only carry.
Creason broke his fibula in his left leg. It ruined the rest of his season. He got a few touches late in the season, but he was never the same.
The bulk of his yards and all his touchdowns came in two games plus one carry in another. Of his 297 yards rushing, 244 came in that short span.
"It was hard because we were really counting on him," Northwest coach Adam Dorrel said of last year's injury. "I know he was looking forward to his opportunity. I think it was hard on him emotionally. I think he feels he has a lot to prove.
"Personally, I think he can do it. I think he can be a good back in the MIAA if he is healthy."
Creason wants to get healthy, quickly. Even as he walked with a slight limp out to practice last week, you could feel how much he preferred to be in pads with his teammates, running plays.
The adage of taking it slow until the injury fully heals is not part of Creason's mentality.
Last week the trainers had not given Dorrel a timetable for Creason's return, but Creason was planning to compete in a scrimmage on Thursday. He maintains the hamstring injury is not serious.
"They told me I'm pushing it, but I like to work hard so I'm sticking with my rehab and see how it feels," he said.
"I can't wait. I miss it so much and the feeling you get when you do get in a rhythm."
A healthy Creason will give the Bearcats the most dynamic running attack in the MIAA. Creason provides power and the ability to break off significant runs.
Junior running back Jordan Simmons led Northwest in rushing last year, gaining 739 yards, 11 touchdowns in 150 carries. Simmons has breakaway speed.
The newcomer is sophomore James Franklin, whose strength is to find holes at the line of scrimmage where none appears.
"I think we help each other out a lot," Creason said. "We are all one, all brothers out there."
Creason is eager to do his part and help on the field. As frustrated as he is to be sidelined again, Creason is not wallowing in self-pity.
"It is unfortunate but you got to take what comes to you. I'm dealing with it," he said.
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