Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte holds up the Gold Ball as he celebrates with his teammates. (Jason Gendron Photography)

PORTLAND — Heading into Saturday’s Class A state championship game, the Thornton Academy Golden Trojans had yet to find themselves trailing – not for one second.

The Trojans made sure it would stay that way as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead just over 6 minutes into the game and they never looked back in a 49-14 victory over the Portland Bulldogs at Fitzpatrick Stadium Saturday, Nov. 17.

“It set the tone for the game. We knew we could come out and make big plays,” said TA junior quarterback Kobe Gaudette, who went 7 of 10 through the air for 162 yards and four touchdowns.

The victory gave the Trojans their fourth state championship since 2012 and first undefeated season since 1986.

“It’s huge. Coach (Kevin) Kezal told us ‘When you come back to TA, what’s your legacy going to be? What’s your story going to be?’ And now we’re state champs,” said TA senior Athan Gikas, who is one of four captains for the Trojans.

Just like they have all year, the Trojans would get a huge game from Anthony Bracamonte. The senior standout put up 100 rushing yards, caught five passes for 144 yards and scored four times – including one on a punt return.


“The kid is a magic maker. He’s a guy that we lean on and we depend on him. What else would you expect? He comes through in the biggest moments for us and he’s just one of those players,” Gikas said.

Bracamonte was looking to make noise in the title game – and he knows he couldn’t have done that without his teammates.

“I know 20 years later I’m going to look back at this game and know I gave it my all. I wouldn’t have been able to make those plays without my teammates. They helped me through a lot today and it was just a great way to go out,” Bracamonte said.

Bracamonte’s title game performance started on the third play of the game when he caught a pass from Gaudette and raced 61 yards for the score.

A Portland miscue on the ensuing kickoff would give the Bulldogs the ball at their own 1-yard line. The TA defense forced a three-and-out. Bracamonte would return the Portland punt 35 yards to the house to put TA up 14-0 just under 3 minutes into the game.

The Trojans’ early onslaught continued when Grant Dow picked off a Portland pass to set TA up at the Bulldogs’ 26. Just six plays later, Dow was able to finish what he started as he rammed his way into the end zone from 1 yard out. Brady Forbes, who was a perfect 7 for 7 on the day, nailed the extra point to make it 21-0 with 5:44 left in the opening quarter.


Portland would get on the board when senior running back Zack Elowitch broke through the TA defense and sprinted 67 yards for the score to make it 21-7 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.

The Trojans would answer a few minutes later with a 6-play, 86-yard drive – led by runs of 36 and 16 yards from Bracamonte and a 22-yard scamper from Isaac Ofielu – that ended with Tommy Palmer’s 2-yard TD run.

The TA defense would once again set up the offense late in the first half when Colby Bolduc recovered a fumble at the Portland 22. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Gaudette lofted a pass to Derek Madore for a 22-yard score to make it 35-7 at the break.

Thornton Academy would add to its lead midway through the third quarter as Gaudette and Bracamonte would connect again – this time on a 31-yard touchdown to make it 42-7.

The exclamation point for the TA offense would come early in the fourth when Gaudette hit Bracamonte for an 8-yard score.

Elowitch, who finished with 244 yards on 34 carries, would get one final highlight-reel run at Fitzpatrick Stadium – the regular season home of the Bulldogs – when he scored on a 66-yard run with 5:35 left in the game. The Portland senior accounted for all but four of the team’s offensive yards in the title game.


With the game clock running because of the 35-point mercy rule, the Trojans closed out the game with a six-play drive that lasted the final five minutes to complete their perfect 2018 season.

“It’s so important to us because this was the last time for us playing with the Thornton Academy jersey on. The last time playing for these coaches and last time playing with these kids. We were all just kind of taking it all in, putting our hearts into it and we left it all on the field,” said senior captain Ean Patry.

“It means everything. This whole season has meant everything. We’ve worked so hard for it … there’s no other group of guys who deserve it this much,” added Bracamonte, who is also a captain for the Trojans.

Thornton Academy head coach Kevin Kezal was thrilled to see the TA seniors go out with a Gold Ball.

“I’m so proud of them. We missed out on the last two years, and then last year after we lost the southern Maine final, they made a goal that they wanted to get here and they put the work in. They’ve done a great job leading this program and our underclassmen have followed their lead. I’m just so happy for them to be able to have this feeling,” Kezal said.

Bracamonte’s Fitzy moment


Bracamonte has been putting on a show all season, but could Saturday’s standout performance help him bring the Fitzpatrick Trophy back to Saco?

“Coming into the season, I wasn’t thinking about (winning the Fitzpatrick Trophy) or Gatorade Player of the Year, I was thinking about getting a ring – that’s what we did today, so now we’ll see what happens,” Bracamonte said.

Kezal certainly believes the senior deserves to be at the top of the list.

“I think his body of the work over the past three weeks sums up what he’s all about. He had over 200 yards against Sanford, close to 400 yards last week and I don’t know how many he had today. He’s the best player in the state of Maine. Period,” Kezal said.

Winning for their community

When the final seconds ticked off the clock on Saturday afternoon, the Trojans were celebrating on the field – but this group was also looking forward to sharing the Gold Ball with the entire Thornton Academy community.

“(This title is for) all the fans, especially the student section, that have supported us all this time. It’s just kind of giving back to them and (we) realize that the championship is not just for us, it’s for them and it’s a great feeling,” said senior captain Ethan Logan.

Kezal knows how important his program is to the community and he is proud that his players recognize that.

“I think it’s just very important to our community. We have a community that loves us. A school that supports us. We have a great support staff, great coaching staff and we have great kids,” Kezal said. “I think our kids understand that and they don’t take it for granted … they go out and they want to play for the players who have played before them and the ones that are coming up in our youth program.”