STANDISH — Kevin Cooper knows why his Bonny Eagle High football team is playing in the Class A state championship game Saturday.

“Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, whenever we’ve needed to make a play this year our guys have come through,” Cooper said.

He just wishes he could explain why it happens.

“If you could put your finger on it as a coach, you’d be pretty famous as a coach,” he said.

Actually Cooper does have a pretty good idea of how it happens – and so does his team. It starts with athletic talent.

“We have so many kids that can do everything,” said junior fullback/outside linebacker Nick Thorne. “There’s not really one or two individual playmakers. It’s everyone.”

Then the talent is “coached up” in film study and practice repetitions. Cooper has won five state titles at Bonny Eagle (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2013). Situational football is practiced, special teams are emphasized.

Gradually players learn to trust their own instincts and those of their teammates.

“Doing your job and trusting your friends on the field. I think that’s one thing that makes us so strong,” said Thorne, who leads the defense in tackles for loss despite missing four-plus games with an elbow injury. “We can just go out and play because we don’t have doubts and worries.”

In Saturday’s championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Bonny Eagle (10-0) will face a similarly diverse and balanced team in North champion Portland (9-1).

At quarterback, Cam Day of Bonny Eagle has accounted for 1,718 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns (12 rushing, 12 passing). Issiah Bachelder of Portland isn’t Day’s equal as a runner but has 1,590 yards of total offense with 29 total touchdowns (11 rushing, 18 passing).

Top rushers Alex Sprague (1,167 yards, 18 TDs) of the Scots and Dylan Bolduc (1,224 yards, 14 touchdowns) of Portland could cancel each other out.

“They’re a mimic team of us,” Thorne said.

So the game may come down to one big play, like three key plays that illustrate Bonny Eagle’s season.


Bonny Eagle was locked in a battle with two-time champ Thornton Academy in the last week of the regular season, with the playoff home-field advantage in the balance. Trailing 14-13 with just over five minutes to play, Cooper opted to go for two points to gain the lead.

With backup quarterback Connor Sirois in to take the shotgun hike, Sprague lined up in the slot to the right side and then went in motion.

“That was my first time running that play. We practiced it a couple times,” Sprague said.

The concept was simple: Get your fastest player to the edge out of an unfamiliar set.

It also showed confidence in Sprague, who had earlier muffed a punt, leading to Thornton’s first touchdown.

Sprague said part of the successful equation was a “a really nice block by (tight end Christian Tripp) on the corner. He just flattened him.”

Bonny Eagle won 15-14 after key interceptions by Christian Napolitano (who leads the team in sacks) and Kordell Menard.


You don’t have to be speedy and svelte to be a playmaker. Nose tackle Zack Klein proved it in the South semifinal. Hosting Sanford, a team it beat by 36 points in the regular season, Bonny Eagle led 14-13 late in the third quarter after a Sanford touchdown pass, with Sanford lining up to tie the game with a point-after.

“I was mad about it and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something to help us out and turn things around,’ ” Klein said.

“Coach Cooper is pretty serious about being able to block PATs,” said Klein, noting the team practices it weekly. “Because once you do it you can swing the momentum.”

Klein used his nose tackle skills to “swim” past the center, turned his hands down as he’d been taught and felt the ball thud into his rib cage.

“It stung a bit but I really didn’t care,” Klein said.

Three plays later, Day and Menard (who has seven touchdown catches) combined for an 82-yard touchdown.

Bonny Eagle went on to win, 42-13.

“It was the domino effect,” Klein said.


Cam Theberge had already scored on a scintillating screen pass and set up another touchdown with a 44-yard interception return in last Friday’s South final, but Scarborough wouldn’t quit, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown pass to cut the Scots’ lead to 26-14 with a minute left in the third quarter.

Emmett Peoples’ kickoff drove Theberge back to his 6-yard line, right of the hashmark.

He didn’t hesitate. Return left was called and left was where he was headed.

“We practice it mostly every day of the week,” Theberge said.

“Greg (Emerson) had a great block. I saw that. Freed me up. There was space open on the field. I just ran to the open space.”

Playmakers also know how to adjust. On a previous return, Theberge also had open space and got to the edge, only to be slowed by Peoples and eventually forced out of bounds. This time when they met at nearly the same spot, Theberge made a quick cut back to his right, getting past both Peoples and the pursuit, then turned on his speed over the final 50 yards. Bonny Eagle won, 40-20.

Does Bonny Eagle have more big plays in its season?

“You just have to have confidence in yourself and always be ready,” Theberge said.