They knocked out the Class A champ. Now the Scarborough High football players get a chance to pull another major upset – against Bonny Eagle in the South regional final on Friday evening.

Scarborough’s dramatic 36-29 South regional semifinal victory Saturday at Thornton Academy proved the Red Storm have the talent and confidence to step into the ring with Maine’s football heavyweights.

“We were scouting Bonny Eagle (in its semifinal win). We knew we were going to win (at Thornton),” said junior tight end Eric Quirk, who caught two touchdown passes.

The week before, after Scarborough steamrolled South Portland in the quarterfinal, senior two-way lineman Dakota Joy sounded equally positive.

“We know we can win. That’s the thing,” Joy said. “We always have the mentality that we can win and I really do believe that we can win this year, that we can go all the way to (Fitzpatrick Stadium)” for the state championship game.

No. 1 seed Bonny Eagle (9-0) advanced to the regional final with a 42-13 win against Sanford. The Scots’ championship pedigree (state titles in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2013) and home-field advantage make them the favorite.

Scarborough is playing in a Class A regional final for the first time. It won the Class B state title in 2002.

But Scots Coach Kevin Cooper made it clear his team did not catch any breaks by getting Scarborough.

“The general person from outside might think, Thornton got upset, that might benefit Bonny Eagle,” Cooper said. “That’s not how we think. The best team won that game. We’re playing the best possible team.”

Bonny Eagle won at Scarborough 21-7 in the second week of the regular season. On a warm night, the Scots rushed for 271 yards with Alex Sprague (22 carries, 157 yards) and quarterback Cam Day (26 carries, 92 yards) carrying the load, especially after Nick Thorne went down with an injury in the second quarter.

Scarborough’s only touchdown came on a 93-yard kickoff return by Cody Dudley in the first half. Bonny Eagle’s only score in the second half came on a 21-yard interception return by Cam Theberge.

In the fourth quarter Scarborough drove inside Bonny Eagle’s 10 three times but did not score. The first time, a touchdown was wiped out by a holding penalty. The second time, quarterback Zoltan Panyi juggled a shotgun snap on 4th-and-goal at the 1, ruining the play. On the third drive, Bonny Eagle intercepted Panyi for the third time.

Against Thornton on Saturday, Panyi demonstrated marked improvement. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior completed 12 of 16 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 40 yards and a score. He did not throw an interception. He directed five lengthy touchdown drives. Panyi’s winning 23-yard touchdown pass to Dudley with 59 seconds to play capped a four-play, 60-yard blitz in just 45 seconds.

“We all truly believe that even if we go down a little bit we’re going to come back,” Panyi said. “It’s just the belief, the belief that we’re going to win.”

Scarborough’s run game is also better than it was in Week 2 as the Storm have gone to more two-back, two-tight end sets. Tailback Owen Garrard has become a 20-carry back who runs with power, inside and outside. Fullback Aren Dickman is explosive if given a crease in the middle.

The Red Storm’s improved balance and quarterback play were especially evident on third and fourth downs against Thornton. Scarborough converted 9 of 13 third downs and was 2 of 2 on fourth down. Only two of its possessions – the first and the last – resulted in punts.

“We can’t let them sustain drives the way the did at TA,” Cooper said. “For high school kids to sustain drives like that, it’s really incredible.”

Defensively, Scarborough had a harder time against Thornton, giving up 317 total yards including touchdown runs of 21, 15, and 19 yards by Trojans quarterback Michael Laverriere and 54 yards on a jet sweep by speedy Anthony Bracamonte.

The Red Storm knew Laverriere would get the bulk of the carries – 21 of 30 as it turned out.

Bonny Eagle will be harder to game plan.

Day, the quarterback, is a strong rusher (867 yards this season), but the Scots have multiple threats on offense. Sprague (1,045 yards) is able to make quick, jarring cuts and has breakaway speed. Thorne is recovered from his injury, providing another power runner. Theberge is a threat as both a receiver and ball carrier. Arlo Pike, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound tight end, also is back from an injury.

“We have a lot of moving pieces to our offense, a lot of different guys,” Cooper said. “Playing without Thorne and Pike was difficult. Now that they’re back, we’ve integrated them back into the offense. We’re not trying to be an all-world offense Week 1.”

Both teams have a mix of juniors and seniors in pivotal positions, particularly Scarborough. Considering Panyi, Garrard, Dudley, Quirk, and tight end Reece Lagerquist are juniors, many thought that Scarborough was still a year away from championship contention.

But, as Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson said, “There’s no reason to wait a year if you don’t have to.”