SACO — Thornton Academy’s football team had all facets of its game working against injury-depleted Windham in Friday’s inter-class game.

Class A Thornton (4-2) led 30-0 at the half en route to a 44-7 win against Class B North contender Windham (4-2) in front of an announced crowd of 1,975 fans.

In the first half, Thornton senior Hayden Whitney showed both speed to get to the outside and tackle-breaking power between the tackles for 144 yards on 14 first-half carries. Whitney played the first series of the second half and finished with 189 yards on 16 carries and a pair of 9-yard touchdowns, the second opening a 37-0 lead and sending the game to running time.

Whitney said he wants people to know he’s more than just a speed back.

“I want my team to know it most,” he said. “Big plays. Big runs. Hard hits. That’s what gets a team going and the more plays you can make like that the more success your team is going to have.

Ryan O’Keefe completed 9 of 10 passes for another 105 yards, with Whitney getting three grabs for 47 yards and sure-handed Carlos Eboli grabbing five for 53 yards.


The defense, led by end Mack Lowe, defensive tackle Brent Paulin and inside backer Harry Bunce, shut down Windham’s running game, allowing just 9 yards on the ground on 16 first-half rushes.

“We had a hard time. They did a real good job up front,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins.

Then there was Thornton junior Caden True. He intercepted two passes when Windham made first-half red zone trips, had punt returns of 68 and 49 yards to set up Thornton touchdowns and scored on 7- and 1-yard runs from the quarterback position.

Windham had a chance to grab the early lead after Alex Yeaton intercepted a True pass on Thornton’s first possession at the Thornton 28. Windham picked up one first down, then went backwards and True intercepted a fourth-down throw by Landon Buzulchuk (7 of 15 passing, 94 yards). At the end of the half, Buzulchuk hit Yeaton with a deep pass good for 47 yards but again the drive stalled on a True interception, this one in the end zone.

In Windham’s four wins, its defense had allowed only eight points, including an impressive 18-0 shutout of Falmouth last week. But Perkins said his team is “decimated” at the inside linebacker position. The Eagles get no breaks in their final two regular-season games, playing next week at Class A leader Oxford Hills and then hosting B North leader Skowhegan.

“The biggest thing is this, you’ve got two weeks left, you’re in the playoffs, you’ve got to get better,” Perkins said. “The beauty is we have two weeks to get better before the second season.”

Thornton appears to be hitting its stride after starting the season an uncharacteristic 1-2 record with one-possession losses to Oxford Hills and Bedford, New Hampshire.

“We’ve been pretty good defensively all year and pretty good on special teams all year. I just think offensively we’re taking care of the ball better and executing,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “We were a young team but like I told the kids, you get five, six weeks into the season you’re not young anymore. It’s time to start playing at a higher level.”

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