PORTLAND – The Cheverus High football players didn’t need to talk about how Thornton Academy snapped their Class A record 34-game winning streak in the Western Class A final last season.
“It goes without saying. It gets you fired up inside,” said Cody O’Brien, the Stags’ captain, star linebacker and fullback.
“Coach (John Wolfgram) talks about playing with maturity, which includes purpose, passion and poise. We definitely had purpose: to make a statement in this game. Passion for sure: the emotions from last year. Poise? We didn’t have the best poise but we definitely got the job done.”
Cheverus got it done in all aspects Saturday and defeated Thornton, 56-7.
Joe Fitzpatrick rushed for six touchdowns while gaining 261 yards on 29 carries.
“We had a really good day offensively, especially the line (and) Cody O’Brien blocking along with (tight end) Zordan Holman and (wingback) Liam LaFountain,” Fitzpatrick said. “Those are our keys on offense. They just took care of their assignments so I could worry about what I had to do.”
O’Brien added 115 rushing yards on 15 carries and LaFountain gained 86 yards on just three touches, scoring on a 23-yard rush and a 38-yard pass from Ethan Jordan.
The Stags’ defense was rock-solid, led by the instinctive reads and hard tackling of O’Brien, defensive tackle Matt O’Leary and defensive back Noah Stebbins.
Cheverus (6-0) is the front-runner in Eastern Class A (a realignment moved the Stags to the East this season).
Thornton (4-2) suffered another injury blow when fullback Jesse Meikle was lost for the game on his first carry.
Andrew Libby, the 2012 Gatorade player of the year in Maine, tore his ACL in the first game and several other Thornton players were on the sideline in street clothes.
“If we start making excuses then we’re not going to be successful,” Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal said. “We’ve got enough guys in this program to play. We didn’t make enough plays and they’re a great football team.”
“We were ready to play,” said Wolfgram. “We knew it was an important game for us. We prepared very well and the kids came to play from the opening whistle. I thought we played with discipline and physicality.
“Thornton Academy is a very good football team and we knew we would have to be ready for them. We were.”
Cheverus got rolling on a 65-yard scoring run by Fitzpatrick.
Thornton, which gained just 171 yards, had trouble hanging onto the football and when quarterback Austin McCrum’s high throw went through the hands of his receiver, it was intercepted by Isaac Dunn, who returned it 30 yards to the Thornton 3.
Fitzpatrick scored two plays later from the 2 for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Before the half was out, Fitzpatrick added 2- and 1-yard touchdown runs, and LaFountain scored twice as Cheverus took a 42-7 lead.
Thornton reserve fullback Demelle Ruff broke an 80-yard run for Thornton’s only score. Ruff, who had 17 carries for 127 yards, was the only Thornton player to gain at least 10 yards on a run.
Fitzpatrick added scoring runs of 34 yards on a toss sweep in the third quarter and 26 yards on a fourth-and-16 with 4:20 left in the game.
His last run may have been his best. He took a toss sweep, a play the Stags ran with precision and power throughout, and went around left end.
The offensive line of Greg Grinnell, Riley Archer, center Pat Ball, Connor Conley, and Jon Ruterbories got the push to put Thornton on its heels. Holman and LaFountain collapsed Thornton’s pursuit and O’Brien blew out a defender to open a crease. At the 10, Fitzpatrick put a video-game spin move on a player before using his power to barrel over the last tackler and fall into the end zone.
“He has some talent. He’s a good running back,” Wolfgram said.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: