SACO — The Thornton Academy football team has finally reached the game on its schedule that has been circled on many calendars since preseason. The 6-0 Trojans host the 6-0 Cheverus Stags in a rematch of last year’s Western Maine final. It just wasn’t circled on any of the Thornton coaches or players’ calendars.

“We haven’t circled any dates on our calendar. I think that’s more the media circling that game,” said head coach Kevin Kezal. “We’ve got to go one week at a time, and that’s how we approach things. And you have to do that because you only play eight games. They tell us we’re playing Cheverus this week, so we’re getting ready for them.”

Kezal said the team has been mature enough to not look ahead too far and overlook an opponent.

“I don’t think we look past anyone. I think our team does a real good job of taking it one week at a time,” he said.

Senior running back Nick Kenney echoed Kezal’s “one week at a time” mantra, but said that it was tough at times to not look ahead to this match-up.

“We all know that week seven we wanted to play Cheverus,” said Kenney. “It’s such a hyped-up game, and everything is in the news. But we’re just taking it like it’s a big game, like every game.”

Senior linebacker Connor McCrum said the thought of playing the Stags has been on the team’s mind since losing in the regional final.

“We’ve been thinking about that (game) since last year. Everybody is ready to play Cheverus,” said McCrum. “We just want to show that we compete with ”˜The Big Cheverus.’”

Kezal said that while he has looked at game tape from the playoff game against the Stags last year while preparing this week, he takes nothing from that match-up as far as revenge or getting back at them, even if the players do.

“It’s a new season. It’s a regular season game, and it’s totally different circumstances than that (game) last year,” said Kezal.

Kezal was sure to give Saturday’s opponent plenty of praise for what they have accomplished, both in recent history and this season. Cheverus has won 30 straight games and the past two Class A state championships.

“They’re a very good football team. That’s the biggest challenge they pose,” said Kezal. “They’ve won all these games in a row for a reason. They’ve got a lot of good players, and they’re very well coached.”

And while the opponent might be tougher than any the Trojans have faced, Kezal said it doesn’t change what they have done during the week to get ready.

“We don’t prepare any differently,” said Kezal. “It’s a big regular season game, but it’s a regular season game.”

Saturday’s match-up does have significance, but it has less to do about who the Trojans are trying to beat, and more about why.

“The big games start in two weeks. Right now you’re playing for a chance at homefield advantage. That’s what this game is for. And that’s all that’s going to be determined,” said Kezal.

Kenney said that the team has really focused this week, in studying the gameplan, working hard at practice, and getting prepared physically in the weight room. They know that all their hard work will pay off come game time, he said.

“We’re just doing all the little things so that Saturday, everything will come together,” said Kenney.

— Contact Wil Kramlich at 282-1535, Ext. 323 or follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.



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