Deering-Thornton Academy is an old-time high school football rivalry that unfortunately only occurs a couple times a decade because of the expansion of high school football.

But we’re in luck. For the second straight year, Deering and Thornton Academy will meet in the crossover week of Western Class A. Tonight, weather permitting, seven games pitting Cumberland County teams against teams from the York County division are on tap.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Thornton Academy, the Golden Trojans (4-0) and Rams (3-1) will end this season’s intersectional games.

More marquee games could be in the future if high school football goes to four classes next season. Deering, Thornton and the other larger schools in the state could be in three six-team divisions in Class AA. Schools would have to pick up games from the other divisions to round out their schedules. The days of Bangor playing at Biddeford, Portland or Deering could return.

When Deering and Thornton played annually, the games were on Saturdays. Deering didn’t have lights and Thornton still doesn’t. The school plans to install a turf field and lights at Hill Stadium for next season, but the football team will still play home games on Saturday afternoons.

This year’s game marks the 100th anniversary of the first Deering-Thornton game.

“The first recorded evidence of Thornton and Deering playing football was on Oct. 19, 1910,” said Thornton Athletic Director Gary Stevens.

Thornton Academy won, 13-0.

Thornton played each Portland team when Class A was smaller.

“We used to play Portland, too, and we had a good rivalry with South Portland,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “We lost a lot with expansion. It will be nice to have games like that again.”

Biddeford at Portland is the top crossover attraction tonight. Like Thornton-Deering, Portland-Biddeford was an annual matchup before the league expanded. It’s a key game for both teams. After a tough loss last week at Cheverus, the Bulldogs need a win.

The Deering-Thornton matchup is part of Homecoming for the Golden Trojans. Some of the activities include a pregame parade, an alumni soccer game, a sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and a Homecoming dance.

Art Leveris Jr., one of the two Fitzpatrick Trophy winners from Thornton (1991), will be among the inductees.

From a game standpoint, the winner will gain valuable Crabtree points and a giant confidence boost.

“I think we’re playing well, but I want to see how we play in a big game,” said Kezal.

“We know we’re going to have a big crowd because of Homecoming. There’s a lot of tradition here. We’re a young team but the kids have stepped up.”

Kezal said Deering presents a big challenge.

“Deering is a good football team,” he said. “Offensively they have a lot of skill players. Their quarterback (Jamie Ross) is a good passer with good receivers.”

Deering is hoping to be more competitive than a year ago when it lost 30-0 at home. Thornton also entered with a 4-0 record a year ago, while Deering stood 2-2.

The game turned late in the second quarter when Ross attempted to sneak in from the 1 but had the ball stripped by defensive back Josh Woodward, who took it 77 yards before being tackled. Three plays later, Thornton had a 21-0 lead with 33 seconds left in the first half.

Thornton hasn’t skipped a beat despite the graduation of several talented skill position players.

Woodward, now the quarterback, has been outstanding and leads the team in rushing with close to 500 yards. Woodward, Dimitri Skinsacos and Adam Lamontagne have taken up the slack left by the departed players. Skinsacos was moved into the backfield and has been a versatile player with his blocking, running and receiving.

IF THE GRADUATION of 30 starters over the past two seasons wasn’t enough to derail the Morse High football program, injuries this season have added to the angst.

The Shipbuilders have had a rash of injuries, but despite the setbacks they’re moving forward and looking ahead to the rest of their games.

Morse won Saturday for the first time this season with a 27-17 victory against Winslow, which also is struggling. Morse (1-3) will be home against Hampden Academy (3-1) tonight.

Jason Darling, a first-year coach, said his team lost its two starting tackles before halftime of the opener against Waterville. The Shipbuilders lost another tackle with a broken leg in the second week.

Wide receiver Everett Moye has played despite battling a quadricep injury all season.

“Hopefully we’ll finally get some continuity in our lineup,” said Darling.

“We got Waterville and Gardiner out of the way in the first two weeks. As long as we stay healthy, we have a good chance to win some games.”

Two sophomores have sparked the Shipbuilders offensively. Quarterback Kevin McKellar connected on 13 of 18 passes for 118 yards against Winslow. He’s been over 100 yards passing in every game. Tailback D’Vaughn Myers scored two touchdowns and gained 130 yards.

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

[email protected]