Friday, April 18, 2014
PORTLAND - Three years ago, Cheverus put the ball in Peter Gwilym's hands.
A receiver as a freshman, Peter Gwilym switched to quarterback as a sophomore, and as a senior led Cheverus to its first football state championship in 25 years.
Jill Brady/Staff Photographer
COACH OF THE YEAR
Lance Johnson, Scarborough
Johnson spent 21 years as an assistant at Portland before getting his first head coaching position. He didn’t waste any time making things happen, as he guided a team that was 1-7 in 2009 to an 8-2 record. The Red Storm advanced to the Western Class A semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Cheverus, 21-14. The future looks bright for the Scarborough program with Johnson at the helm.
The rest, as they say, is history.
As the Stags' quarterback, Gwilym, a senior, handled the routine duties like handing off, barking the signals or huddling his team. He also had a knack for the heroic.
When the game was on the line, Gwilym was looking to make a big play. And more often than not, he delivered.
"I like having the pressure on," said Gwilym. "I was able to make a couple of big plays against Deering, so I guess that's how I got the reputation. When the game is on the line, you don't want to lose, so you give it everything you have."
Gwilym returned an interception 106 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of a 35-34 win over Deering in the Western Class A championship game.
Later, with his team trailing by five points, Gwilym drove the Stags 70 yards for the winning score. On that drive, Gwilym turned a broken play into a 37-yard touchdown run that was called back because of clipping.
But that play still moved Cheverus deeper into Deering territory, and the Stags scored a few plays later. Gwilym called it "the signature drive" of the season.
For those memorable plays and others, the fact he rarely came off the field as a two-way standout and for leading Cheverus to a 12-0 record and the Class A state championship, Gwilym is our football MVP.
A receiver on the freshman football team, Gwilym was switched to quarterback for the 2008 season by Coach John Wolfgram.
Wolfgram had Gwilym and two other candidates try out for quarterback. He saw a pure runner in Gwilym and potential to grow as a passer. Gwilym started at quarterback and defensive back his sophomore year.
"How many kids start two ways as a sophomore," asked Wolfgram.
Gwilym was a two-way starter for three years. He got more confident playing quarterback each year.
He didn't run much as a sophomore, but did it more often as a junior and a lot this season, as he carried the ball 120 times for 705 yards and 13 touchdowns.
As a passer, Gwilym was less skilled, but one who worked hard to improve.
He completed 52 of 88 passes for 763 yards and nine touchdowns this year. He threw only two interceptions.
"Peter isn't a pure quarterback," said Wolfgram. "At first, he had a low release and he sometimes had trouble throwing to his left, but he worked real hard and came to every summer workout we had. We worked on his mechanics, but it's very hard to change someone's mechanics."
One thing Wolfgram noticed in those workouts was that Gwilym could throw on the run with accuracy.
And over the last three seasons, particularly the last two, he showed he could throw the deep ball.
Those two types of passes have always been part of Wolfgram's offenses.
Along with his skills with the ball, Gwilym was the ultimate competitor.
"Peter loves to compete. That, along with the experience he gained over the last three years and his athleticism, enabled him to make plays," said Wolfgram.
"I knew Peter was a competitor his freshman season."
But he didn't know at the time how good his receiver-turned-quarterback would become.
Gwilym has a 3.89 grade-point average. He has narrowed his college choices to Bentley, Bates, Colby and Trinity.
He wants to continue playing football in college, but feels his days as a quarterback are over.
"I think I'll be playing wide receiver," he said.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: