We're always thanking God for small favors, so how about we give him props for a really big one: Chances are, this will be the final season of Dawson's Creek. Hallelujah!

"People are saying it's the last year," series star James Van Der Beek confirms to TV Guide Online. "It's been a great run. I'm grateful. Six years? I'll take it."

Personally, we would have been happy had Dawson and Co. paddled their way off the TV landscape following graduation day at Capeside High, but that's just us. On second thought, maybe it's not. "It's kind of nice to see light at the end of the tunnel," admits Van Der Beek, who has been holed up with Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson in Wilmington, N.C., the show's home base, since 1997. "It's longer than I went to high school. And if I spent six years at college, I'd have a degree.

"If it is indeed the last season," he adds, "it will be sad to say goodbye to the people I work with. That'll be the toughest thing about it."

WB spokesman Paul McGuire insists, "It's undetermined whether the show will go on beyond this year." And Jordan Levin, the network's entertainment president, doesn't sound like a guy who's itching to drain the creek. "It's still a very successful show," he says, citing its decent ratings performance among young adults last season.

That said, Creek's newest cast member Busy Philipps (Freaks and Geeks) is also hearing whispers that the end is near for the past-its-prime teen sudser. And like Van Der Beek, she's not down in the mouth about it. "That was the cool thing about coming on to the show last year," she explains. "There was this feeling that these were the last couple of years. It's winding down."