Thornton Academy defensive end Ethan Logan looks to knock down a pass from Massabesic quarterback Nick Roberge during a regular season game in Saco. Logan and the Trojans will host Scarborough in the regional final on Saturday. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

SACO — The Thornton Academy football team rolled to a 35-13 win over rival Scarborough last month, but the Golden Trojans know that game won’t mean anything when the two teams meet in Saturday’s Class A South championship game.
“We know it’s going to be a heck of a football game. We’re very similar teams. We’re pretty physical teams, good athletes, kids that can score from anywhere on the field. It’s going to be a heck of a game,” said Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal.
The game between the No. 1 Trojans and No. 2 Red Storm is set for a 1 p.m. kick off on Saturday at Hill Stadium.
It may have been only a month ago, but both teams have made adjustments since the Oct. 6 contest in Saco.
“After the TA game, our coaches realized a couple more things and they changed our offense a lot so it can help our skill players make more plays in the open field,” said Scarborough junior Jarett Flaker, who ran for 159 yards and three scores and caught five passes for 97 yards and another TD in Scarborough’s semifinal win last week.
Kezal and the Trojans’ D know stopping Flaker will be key on Saturday.
“You’ve got to get the edge set obviously because if he gets to the edge, I don’t think there’s anyone in the state who’s going to catch him,” said Kezal. “You’ve got to set the edge. You’ve got to take proper angles to the ball. You’ve got to be gap sound and certainly even then he’s a big, strong kid that can shake tackles. He’s a heck of a player.”
Thornton Academy senior defensive end Ethan Logan agreed with his coach.
“(We) definitely have to make sure me and Danny Tarbox, the other defensive end, set that edge and allow our middle linebackers and other interior players to get there for the tackle,” Logan said.
The Trojans have spent a ton of time watching film on the Red Storm the last few weeks, according to senior defensive back Athan Gikas.
“We’ve made a couple adjustments and we’ve spent a lot of time in the film room just critiquing them, critiquing ourselves and just moving (things) around to match what they do,” Gikas said.
The Trojans’ D will certainly have to step up on Saturday, but Scarborough will also face a tough test against the explosive TA offense.
“They make you defend the whole field. You have to defend the inside run game. You have to defend the quarterback running the ball. You have to defend (Anthony) Bracamonte and you have to defend the play-action pass,” said Scarborough coach Lance Johnson. “There’s a lot to defend and you just have to be sound in what you do, try to get them some multiple fronts to look at and just try to be sound and not give up the big play.”

Thornton Academy’s Athan Gikas breaks up a pass to Scarborough’s Jarett Flaker during regular season meeting in October. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

Thornton Academy is led by quarterback Kobe Gaudette, running back Isaac Ofielu and wide receivers Bracamonte and Gikas.
Kezal has been happy with the Trojans’ ability to get all of their playmakers involved in the offense this season.
“I think that’s been part of our success this year. We’ve been able to get the ball spread around,” Kezal said.Logan, who plays a key role on the TA line from his tight end spot, believes the game could come down to who controls the line of scrimmage.
“We’ve definitely got to take advantage of the double teams when they’re there. Take advantage of covering people up and giving the ball to the guys and have them do their thing,” Logan said.
Saturday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s regional final where Scarborough rolled to a 49-7 win. That was after the Trojans won the regular-season meeting between the two powerhouse programs.
“It’s been a rivalry the last few years and they’ve beaten us in the regular season and we’ve handled them in the playoffs,” said Johnson, who led his team to the state title last year.
The Trojans certainly remember last November’s beatdown in Scarborough.
“We definitely looked back on last year and watch the film (from the regional final) and realized how we didn’t play to our potential. It definitely lit a fire under us to make sure we leave it all on the field and give our best effort,” said Logan.
This year’s TA squad is thrilled to have homefield advantage this time around.
“It’s huge. It kind of takes us back to last year. We went over there and played at their place. It’s (great to have) the homefield advantage because (we will) have our home fans behind us and that’s going to play a huge role in the game,” said Gikas.
“It’s an incredible feeling to work all season, put yourself in a great position like we have and then to have homefield advantage for a playoff game. It’s a great feeling,” added Logan.
Kezal knows that even though his squad earned homefield advantage with the regular-season win, the Trojans will still need to produce on Saturday.
“We enjoy playing here and certainly being home for the playoffs … and by beating them the first time, that’s all we’ve earned is homefield. But on Saturday that doesn’t really mean anything. You’ve got to come out and play well, execute and we’ll see what happens,” said Kezal. “
Both coaches agreed on what will determine the outcome of the regional final.
“It’s going to come down to execution and just who plays fundamental football. Who doesn’t turn the ball over and who has the poise to make the plays when they need to,” said Kezal.
“I think it’s just the team that makes the fewest mistakes and doesn’t give up the big plays,” said Johnson. “Defensively, it’s bend but don’t break at times, don’t give up big plays and offensively don’t turn the ball over and try and be consistent and limit penalties.”
Gikas believes Saturday’s clash boils down to one thing.
“Playing physical football. That’s what it comes down to in the playoffs — who’s going to take the other man’s will?” Gikas said.
— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 780-9017. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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