HILMAR — Hilmar High quarterback Andrew Olson couldn’t have approached one of his most terrifying athletic moments in any other way, going full throttle despite the disappointing circumstances.
This was 11 months ago, when the Yellowjackets were in the middle of their toughest preseason schedule in school history. Enochs High of Modesto, a Division I program, didn’t show much sympathy on Sept. 10, 2010, as the Eagles had a four-touchdown lead entering the fourth quarter. The score didn’t slow Olson down. He went hard as ever on a 40-yard scramble down the sideline before he was tackled, cleanly, immediately breaking his non-throwing left arm.
Now that he has grown to accept the 11 screws and two titanium plates in his arm, Olson wants redemption.
He did return last season for the Yellowjackets’ playoff game against Argonaut High on Nov. 12, eight weeks after that sideline crash. But he knows this season means a little more, especially since it is his last at the high school level.
“This year, for me, is revenge,” Olson said.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback leads a team with 18 starters from last season. The Yellowjackets have that kind of experience and talent that one player said have made supporters compare this year’s team to the Hilmar team in 2008, one that won the Sac-Joaquin Section title.
“I’m really pleased with everybody,” Olson said. “We’re working really hard out here.”
The truth, however, is that he’s just one member of a loaded team. Almost every position is filled with prior varsity experience and depth. To further this point, Marques said his team is prepared for a repeat of the unthinkable: the Yellowjackets have three other capable quarterbacks.
“What (Olson’s injury) did was it made other people better,” Marques said. “It forced other people into action. Because they got playing time and reps last year, it really helped us. We had to do something different and we became better because of it. We didn’t rely on one weapon, so we had to really play as a unit. And we’ve carried that over to this year.
“He’s a big part, but he’s not the only piece of the puzzle.”
When Olson was carried off the field last fall during the Enochs game, an air of uncertainty floated down the Hilmar sideline to the cheering section. But the Yellowjackets didn’t panic with this sudden realization of losing their starting quarterback, as they went on to finish 4-2 in their return to the Trans-Valley League, enough to land a playoff berth.
Though Hilmar lost against Argonaut, Olson’s return provided some excitement after he completed 12-of-22 passes for 118 yards, though he also threw an interception. That defeat left him wanting revenge.
“Things are looking really good out there,” he said, taking a breather from a recent practice. “I think we’re really jelling as a team, offensively and defensively. We’re implanting a few new things on offense and I think it’s going well so far. I feel like I’m turning over a new page in football. Fresh new start, new group of guys. I think it’s going to be good.”
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