PORTLAND – Cam Olson of Cheverus missed most of last season as a linebacker with a broken ankle, but did return for brief appearances in the state final, where he returned an interception for the final touchdown in a 46-8 rout of Bangor.

For an encore this season, he was asked to replace a Fitzpatrick Trophy winner at quarterback, switch to safety and lead the Stags to another Class A state title.

Talk about pressure.

“I didn’t look at it that way,” said Olson. “I looked toward our experienced players to help me out. They’ve given me a lot of support. Once the game starts, you don’t think about all the other stuff. You know you have a job to do.”

Cheverus (10-0) will play Thornton Academy (9-1) in the Western Class A final at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Boulos Stadium.

The winner will advance to the state final Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

While Olson was asked to replace an All-Stater and Fitzy winner in Peter Gwilym, he wasn’t new to the position. A Durham resident, Olson began playing quarterback in the eighth grade in the Brunswick Youth League. He played the position for the Cheverus freshmen and was Gwilym’s backup last season before his injury.

Olson said he learned a lot about the position by watching Gwilym, who is attending Ohio State.

“Peter was a good mentor. He was a player of action and I paid attention to how he handled himself,” Olson said.

Olson is quick to admit the transition from backup to starter has been made smoother because of a strong supporting cast.

Several of his teammates started or saw significant playing time on last season’s state championship team. He’s counted on his fellow co-captains, Spencer Cooke, Mike Dedian and Christian Deschenes, for support.

“The expectations are high because of last season, but it’s not like it’s all on my shoulders,” said Olson. “The offensive line has done a great job protecting me.”

Deschenes said the team has offered positive reinforcement to Olson, not that he’s needed a lot of it.

“We’re always encouraging each other,” said Deschenes.

Olson, who also plays basketball and lacrosse, is your prototypical quarterback. At 6-foot-3, he has the size to spot his receivers and the arm strength to deliver the ball.

“I have a different style than Peter. Coach (John) Wolfgram knows my strength and weaknesses,” Olson said.

Acknowledging that like all quarterbacks, he would like to throw the ball more, Olson knows the Cheverus offense is built around a strong running game.

He hands off to a talented group of runners — tailback Cooke before he was injured, fullback Brent Green and recently, tailback Don Goodrich.

Olson has chipped in with 219 yards rushing on 38 carries, and has passed for 857 yards and 12 touchdowns. Receiver Louie DiStasio is Olson’s favorite target, but all the backs and tight end Ryan Casale can catch the ball.

“We’re pretty balanced,” said Wolfgram. “Cam has been a big part of that. He’s very coachable, a hard worker and a real student of the game.”

Olson said he’s learned the position at the varsity level step by step.

“Our team motto is that we take it one game at a time, and that’s the way I’ve approached it at quarterback. Doing the repetitions in practice has given me the confidence in games,” he said.

Olson also has been a standout at free safety. He intercepted two passes against Deering last week and has six for the season.

Cheverus and Thornton Academy scrimmaged in August. The Stags had the edge but Olson said that will have no significance Saturday.

“That was so long ago,” he said.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH