Members of the Thornton Academy football team celebrate after winning the Class A South regional championship last Saturday. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)

SACO — The Thornton Academy football team punched its ticket to the state championship game with a dominant performance Saturday, Nov. 10 against rival Scarborough in the Class A South final.

The undefeated Golden Trojans (10-0) will now face Class A North champion Portland (9-1) in the Class A state title game Saturday, Nov. 17 at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
“I think for them it doesn’t really feel much different right now, but certainly they are excited about the opportunity,” said Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal. “This group hasn’t been (to a state final), so it will be a real nice experience for these kids.”
Despite not having any state final experience, Kezal is confident this year’s seniors have the ability to lead the way on Saturday.
“Our senior class has just been so solid this year. Obviously it starts with the four captains – Anthony Bracamonte, Athan Gikas, Ean Patry and Ethan Logan – but even the rest of those seniors are just a great group of kids. They are friends with one another. They are really close,” Kezal said. “In the past we’ve had lots of (Division I and Division II) type kids, but (this year) we’ve got a lot of kids who are just hard-working kids who just love to play football. They’ve really set the tone and the underclassmen have followed their lead.”
Bracamonte leads the way for the TA offense as the speedy wide receiver has 1,844 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns this season – including 300 yards, three rushing touchdowns and a kick return TD in the Trojans’ 53-21 win over Scarborough last weekend.
Portland has its own dangerous weapon on offense as senior running back Zack Elowitch has racked up 1,713 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. The standout ran for 232 yards in the Bulldogs’ overtime win over Oxford Hills in the North final.
Kezal sees a lot of similarities between this year’s Portland team and the one TA faced in the 2015 title game – a 24-14 victory for the Trojans.
“It’s funny how the team we see this year is similar to the one we played in 2015,” Kezal said. “They grind. They are going to run the ball. They have a good tailback. They have a fullback (Jamal Moriba) who is a good lead blocker, but he also went the distance against Oxford Hills on a play the other night.”
The TA coach also knows the Portland defense will provide a tough test for his squad.
“Defensively, they’re aggressive, they run around. That defensive tackle for them – Nathan Kaponga – he’s a D1 prospect, and he’s a really good football player,” Kezal said. “They’re a good team. You know they’re going to play with great effort. They’re aggressive, physical, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Thornton will be the home team on the scoreboard, but Fitzpatrick Stadium is the actual home turf of the Bulldogs. Kezal isn’t worried about Portland having an edge as his squad got a chance to play there in the first week of the season.
“I don’t think it’s an issue. We actually played Deering there earlier this year. It’s a great field. It’s great venue for it and I don’t think it matters at all,” Kezal said.
The longtime TA coach has been preaching the importance of having a good week of practice all season – and this week will be no different.
“We talk about every week that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday will determine our success on Saturday,” Kezal said. “To our kids credit, they’ve had great practices all year. We’ve improved as the season went along. They take coaching well. They have really done everything that as a coaching staff we’ve asked them to do.”

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