Bonny Eagle’s Zach Maturo, left, tucks in behind his blocker, Nate Ferris, while looking for room to run during a regular-season game at Thornton Academy on Oct. 5. The two seniors have combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns this season. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

STANDISH — The goal for the season was laid out more than three months ago, and it hasn’t changed for the Bonny Eagle High football team.

“We’ve been talking a long time about playing our best game on November 23rd,” said Coach Kevin Cooper.

The goal is still in play because this Saturday, Bonny Eagle (10-1) will be at Fitzpatrick Stadium for the Class A state championship game against defending champion Thornton Academy (11-0). The Scots will try to avenge a midseason 21-14 loss in Saco and halt Thornton’s 22-game winning streak.

Bonny Eagle is seeking its seventh Class A title in 16 seasons, and first since 2016.

It wasn’t arrogance or outlandish optimism that caused Cooper to start talking about playing for a championship when his team met for its first week of practice in mid-August, at Camp Caribou in Winslow.

Cooper knew his team returned experienced senior playmakers like Zach Maturo (1,144 rushing yards, 23 total touchdowns), Nate Ferris (912 rushing yards, 12 total touchdowns) and quarterback Keegan Meredith (1,304 passing yards with 17 touchdowns) behind a veteran offensive line that averages 270 pounds.

What really prompted the preseason goal was a painful memory. Cooper thought his 2017 team had the goods to be a repeat champion, and the Scots sure looked the part in the fifth game of the season when they laid a 49-14 whipping on Thornton. But Bonny Eagle lost to eventual champion Scarborough in the regular-season finale and was eliminated in a Class A South semifinal at Thornton.

“Two years ago we had a real good team, and we played our best game Week 5, and we really didn’t get any better after that,” said Cooper, in his 22nd year as Bonny Eagle’s head coach. “I’ll take responsibility for that. And I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”

The players have bought in. Meredith said one clear thing he can improve on from the Oct. 5 game at Thornton is ball security. He fumbled twice in the second half while being sacked.

“Turnovers. I feel like that’s the reason we lost last time,” Meredith said. “We’d always get down in scoring position. I fumbled the ball, we turned it over, and they made the most of it.”

Bonny Eagle also had two first-half drives inside the Thornton 20 that stalled, netting zero points. And while Thornton was not penalized, the Scots were called for seven penalties, including two that negated good kick returns.

“We all think we should have won that game, but we’re past that game and we’re all looking forward to playing them again in states,” said Maturo, a former quarterback who is a threat as both a runner and a receiver and is adept at taking direct snaps.

“We just have to execute everything to the best we can. That’s really the way to do it – execute properly,” said senior captain Will Horton, a standout two-way lineman.

In the regular-season meeting, Thornton’s depth and power running game, featuring Isaac Ofielu, wore down the Scots in the second half. Ofielu scored the tying and go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter and keyed a 10-play drive that chewed up the final five minutes after the Scots’ final drive stalled on downs in Thornton territory.

“They’re so methodical, if you turn it over, they’ll just grind you up,” Cooper said. “We can’t give them extra offensive possessions. We’re going to have to win the turnover battle and we’re going to have to play great on defense.”

Meredith said the team goal of being at its best on Nov. 23 helped motivate the Scots all season – after big wins such as last week’s 14-7 overtime semifinal against Scarborough, as well as after the regular-season loss to Thornton.

“Now we’re finally here and we’ll see if that happens,” Meredith said.

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