SOUTH BERWICK – Cameron Roll of Marshwood didn’t know he was going to play quarterback when practices began in August.
But during summer passing drills against other local teams, Coach Alex Rotsko noticed Roll’s athleticism.
“You could see Cameron was a good athlete,” said Rotsko, the Hawks’ new coach who had been a successful high school coach in Massachusetts.
“I told him he was going to be our quarterback. We have a couple of sophomore quarterbacks and a freshman. I wasn’t sure they would be ready. Quarterback is the most important position. We’re going to try someone we felt could play there. We thought Cameron gave us our best chance of winning.”
Ten victories later, Marshwood, of South Berwick, is preparing to play in the Class B state championship game Saturday night against Mt. Blue (11-0) at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The turnaround has been remarkable for the Hawks, who went 2-6 last season. Their season has rekindled memories of the school’s glory years under Coach Rod Wotton.
“I’m pretty optimistic but this was unexpected,” said Roll, a junior. “My friends at school were telling me that we would go 2-6 again. I told them, no, we will go 4-4, win a playoff game and call it a great season. Twelve weeks later, here we are playing for a state title. It’s real cool.
“I can’t go anywhere in the community without someone talking to me about football. A lot of people thought that after we won the regional championship, the season was over. No, I said, we have the state championship. We’re not satisfied just being there. We have to win it. But no matter what happens, it’s been a great season. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Rotsko said Roll improved as the season went along.
“They asked me if I could play quarterback,” said Roll. “The first week of double sessions, I was second string. The next thing I knew, I was the starting quarterback.”
Roll has been a good fit for Marshwood’s wing-T offense, which uses fakes, misdirection and certain blocking schemes to be successful.
“The good thing about our offense is that you can adapt a quarterback around it,” said Rotsko. “We take whatever his best skills are and go with it.”
Roll played quarterback on the freshman team and said he used to throw sidearm the few times the team passed. Now he throws over the top and is much more efficient.
The Hawks are a run-first, pass-second team, but at least they know when Roll is called upon to pass, he can get the job done.
A strong runner — he played halfback last season — Roll adds another ballcarrier to an already talented group of backs that includes sophomore standout Brett Gerry, and seniors Dan Lizotte and Nick Janes.
“We’re all pretty unique,” said Roll of the backfield. “Brett and Dan break tackles. They can turn a 3- to 4-yarder into a long run. Nick catches the ball out of the backfield. They’re all pretty special. I love running the ball. I don’t like to get tackled.”
Against York, Roll ran for more than 20 yards each of the first three times he touched the ball.
He finished with more than 100 yards on only nine carries in the 21-20 victory for the Western Maine title.
As a quarterback, Roll has had to become more vocal. It’s also helped him at cornerback because he recognizes what other teams are trying to do, especially when they throw.
After the season, Roll will head to the weight room to get stronger for next year and prepare for lacrosse, his other sport.
The fact Roll is the quarterback this season doesn’t mean he will be in the position next year.
The team will return three other quarterbacks, who with a year under their belts will be stronger and more mature.
“Coach likes to have competition for a position. I hope to be the quarterback next season but we’ll see what happens,” said Roll.
The Hawks will deal with that down the road.
On Saturday they will travel to Portland and attempt to bring a Gold Ball to the school for the first time since 1989.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: