Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte looks to get past Massabesic’s Nick Roberge on his way to the end zone on Saturday. Bracamonte returned two punts for touchdowns and also had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the Trojans’ 63-7 win. Pat McDonald/Journal Tribune

When the season started one of the games every Maine high school football fan had circled on their calendar was the Week 6 showdown between the Thornton Academy Golden Trojans and Scarborough Red Storm.
The hype surrounding this game certainly hasn’t dissipated after the two Class A powerhouses rolled through the first half of the 2018 schedule.
Thornton Academy sits at 5-0 and has outscored opponents 282-14 with three shutouts along the way. Scarborough boasts a 4-0 record — one of the Red Storm’s games was canceled — and has a 173-41 scoring advantage this season.
“I think the kids are locked in more. Obviously, you are playing a really good opponent. They understand it’s going to take a heck of an effort,” said Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal on his team’s mentality this week. “I think they understand most games are going to be won Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We’ve had a good week so far. The kids have worked hard and they’ve worked hard every week.”
The Trojans have been waiting for another shot at Scarborough since the Red Storm knocked them out of the playoffs in the regional finals on their way to the 2017 Gold Ball.
“I think we’re all looking forward to this. We’ve been looking forward to this game ever since last year,” said TA captain Ean Patry. “We’re all just putting our heads down, playing hard and getting psyched to play them.”
If you take a look at the Varsity Maine Top 10 poll, the Trojans are sitting on top (with 5 of 7 first-place votes) and the Red Storm sit in second place (2 first-place votes). But the MPA Heal Point Standings actually has TA in fourth place behind undefeated Scarborough and Bonny Eagle and also two-loss Sanford — in large part due to a soft schedule in the first five weeks.
The Trojans have certainly heard people saying they haven’t played anyone, but they aren’t worried about the outside noise.
“The standings don’t really matter to us. We just go out and play our game and hopefully every outcome is what we want it to be and we win every game. That’s our goal,” said Patry.
“We kind of block that out. We look at ourselves and try to improve individually and as a whole,” added Anthony Bracamonte, who is also a captain for TA.
Kezal, who is in his 19th year as Thornton Academy’s head coach, knows that the Heal Points will get it right in the end.
“The only thing we can control is each week and go out and play and beat the team that’s in front of us. We just try to take it one week at a time and all that stuff will work itself out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a season where you say ‘wow, (the standings are) totally wrong,’” Kezal said.
The Trojans will have their chance to prove any doubters wrong on Saturday afternoon against a tough Scarborough squad.
“Offensively, obviously they can score from anywhere on the field. They’ve got some really good skill guys and they are very good up front. They are big and athletic and they’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of football for them up front. They present a lot of challenges,” said Kezal on Scarborough’s offense.
Kezal knows one key to getting the win will be stopping Scarborough speedster Jarett Flaker, who is one of the few returning skill players from last year’s championship team.
“Everything’s got to be a little quicker, more physical and we understand we’ve got to tackle Flaker or he’s going to go the distance on you,” said Kezal.
The Trojans will counter Flaker and company with an explosive offense of their own — led by wide receivers Bracamonte and Athan Gikas and running backs Isaac Ofielu and Julien Bailey-Cottle.
“Each week we’re getting better and better. We work hard in practice. We make mistakes, but effort is what covers it up, like coach Kezal says. I think we’re going to keep progressing and keep coming out here and getting better,” said Bracamonte on the offense.
Another key player for the Trojans is junior quarterback Kobe Gaudette, who has really stepped up in his first full season as TA’s starter.
“Kobe has done a great job. Obviously, with the way these games have gone we haven’t really run a lot of plays in the second half and haven’t thrown the ball a whole lot. But Kobe is completing almost 70 percent of his passes on the year. He hasn’t thrown an interception all season,” Kezal said. “He’s done a great job for us. He’s a student of the game. He’s getting better every week and he’s showing great leadership.”
Kezal has been impressed with how far TA’s offensive line has come this season after needing to replace several starters from last year.
“They have worked hard. They’ve come a long ways and they’re a great group. They really get along well and communicate well and we’re really happy with how they’ve come along,” said Kezal.
The Trojans are ready to be put to the test on Saturday — and they are excited for the chance to play in this type of showdown on their home turf.
“I’m just trying to soak it all in. We know that Scarborough is a great team and honestly I wouldn’t want it any different,” said Bracamonte. “I want to go out there, have a good game and put on a show for the fans.”
“If you’re a high school athlete and you’re a real, true competitor you can’t ask for a better setting. It’s home and you’ve got the defending state champs coming in — it should be a great atmosphere and a great game,” added Kezal.
— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 780-9017. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

Comments are not available on this story.