As two of the top quarterbacks in the state and Fitzpatrick Trophy candidates, seniors Jamie Ross of Deering and Peter Gwilym of Cheverus have a lot riding on the Western Class A championship game Saturday.

They’ll be front and center. With nearly all football games, the outcome usually comes down to how the team performs and not just how the two star players perform. Still, there’s a good chance one or both of them will have a say in the final score.

With the seasons and careers both have had, they could end up Fitzpatrick Trophy finalists, but that’s for later, as both of them point out. Ross and Gwilym are solely focusing on team goals and not individual ones.

“People talk to me about the Fitzy,” said Ross. “It’s something you think about but I’m not going to put it ahead of team goals. That’s not what I’m thinking about now.”

“Everything will fall into place,” said Gwilym about the Fitzpatrick Trophy. “We’re just focusing on the Gold Ball and Deering right now.”

Ross and Gwilym are tall, athletic quarterbacks, who can run and throw. Their offenses revolve around them, Ross’ probably more than Gwilym’s because of the type of offense Deering runs. Deering’s no-huddle, spread offense is a wide-open attack that has Ross throwing the ball 20 times a game and running almost as much.

Gwilym directs the more run-oriented wing-T offense. He hands off to halfback Spencer Cooke and fullback Evan Jendrasko. The Stags’ other running option is having Gwilym rolling out on sweeps, which has been successful.

Ross led Deering with 702 yards rushing in the regular season. Gwilym had 501 yards through nine games.

In addition to their quarterback duties, both are valuable elsewhere. Ross is Deering’s punter and place-kicker. Gwilym punts, returns punts and plays safety.

Gwilym’s play in the secondary with his jarring tackles has garnered him as much attention if not more than his play at quarterback.

Gwilym plays with intensity. Ross is laid back.

“Jamie has a quarterback’s demeanor but he’s very competitive,” said Deering Coach Greg Stilphen.

“Peter is a very intense player,” said Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram. “He’s a three- year, two-way starter who is extremely versatile and competitive. Peter concentrates on every play and has had a tremendous impact in all phases of the game. He’s a tough kid and a very good athlete who maximizes his talent.”

Ross and Gwilym have played against each other in high school for the last three years. Both also play basketball. Their association goes back to the seventh grade.

“We played on the same AAU basketball team in the seventh grade and last year,” said Ross. “Peter is a workhorse. He’s a tough kid who always gives 100 percent.”

They note what the other does during the season, but when playing head to head, they’re more concerned with beating the other team’s defense.

“I don’t really compare myself to the other quarterback,” said Ross. “It’s me against the secondary. I respect all quarterbacks because I know how hard it is to play. They do their jobs and I do mine.”

Both hope to continue playing in college. Ross would like to combine football and baseball. He’s a top pitcher. Gwilym is looking at schools in the New England Small College Conference. He has a 3.89 grade-point average.

In three seasons, Ross has thrown for 39 touchdowns and scored 26.

Gwilym started playing quarterback as a sophomore and has improved each season. He has thrown for seven touchdowns and run for 12.

“I was a wide receiver as a freshman,” said Gwilym. “We didn’t have a quarterback my sophomore year. Coach Wolfgram told me he needed a smart quarterback to run the offense and thought I was smart enough to do it.”

Gwilym said his team will have to pay attention to Ross. He expects a different Deering team than the one that lost 44-14 to the Stags in the regular-season finale.

“Jamie has had a very good season,” Gwilym said. “Deering will come at us. They have a lot of momentum from their wins the last two weeks. We’re going to have to play better against Deering than we have so far in the playoffs.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]