Scarborough freezes out TA, advances to first Class A state game

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Scarborough’s football team celebrates at the final horn of its 49-7 win over Thornton Academy in Friday’s Class A South Final. The Red Storm won the region for the first time and will face Windham in the state game Saturday, Nov. 18.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 49 Thornton Academy 7

TA- 0 0 0 7- 7
S- 7 21 14 7- 49

First quarter
S- Flaker 73 run (McDonnell kick)

Second quarter
S- Garrard 34 run (McDonnell kick)
S- Dudley 13 run (McDonnell kick)
S- Flaker 17 run (McDonnell kick)

Third quarter
S- Dudley 4 run (McDonnell kick)
S- Panyi 24 run (McDonnell kick)

Fourth quarter
S- Sendrowski 1 run (McDonnell kick)
TA- Dow 5 run (Forbes kick)

SCARBOROUGH—Revenge was served cold Friday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.

Was it ever.

Scarborough’s top-ranked football team welcomed No. 2 Thornton Academy for the Class A South Final, the de facto state final in the minds of many, and despite bitter and brutal weather conditions, the Red Storm put on an absolutely dazzling performance on both sides of the ball to make history.

Scarborough made an immediate statement, taking the lead for good on just its third play, as sophomore speedster Jarret Flaker broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead, which held up into the second quarter.

There, the Red Storm gained separation, as senior standout Owen Garrard scored on a 34-yard run, senior Cody Dudley scored on a 13-yard reverse and Flaker reached paydirt from 17-yards out for a 28-0 halftime advantage.

When Dudley scored from 4-yards out early in the third quarter, a mercy rule running clock was induced and after senior lineman extraordinaire Anthony Griffin put on a display of brilliance on defense and special teams, senior quarterback Zoltan Panyi added to the lead with a 24-yard scamper to make it 42-0 after three periods.

Senior Jeremy Sendrowski added a 1-yard score for Scarborough’s final points and while Thornton Academy got a late 5-yard run from junior Grant Dow, it was far too little, too late and the Red Storm went on to an emphatic 49-7 victory.

Scarborough won its seventh game in a row, improved to 9-1, ended the Golden Trojans’ season at 8-2, captured the Class A South crown for the first time, a regional title for just the second time and advanced to meet Windham (7-4) in the Class A state final Saturday, Nov. 18 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at a time to be announced.

“It’s the culmination of all the hard work these guys put in,” said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. “It’s rewarding. The kids and coaches have worked really hard. It’s a very good feeling.”

Brrrr

After a warmer than normal stretch of weather that encompassed nearly the entire high school football season, reality set in Friday as Mother Nature’s revenge was served cold.

Bitterly cold.

At kickoff, the temperature was 25-degrees, but when a 17-mile-per-hour wind was factored in, it felt like 11-degrees (by game’s end, the mercury read 23 with the wind chill remaining at 11).

Thornton Academy, the 2014 and 2015 Class A champion, which was upset by Scarborough in last year’s semifinals, entered 2017 being viewed as a team that would contend, but one that was perceived to be a year away.

It didn’t take long for the Golden Trojans to prove the pundits wrong, as they opened with decisive wins at Massabesic (46-6) and at home over Deering (55-12), then made a major statement with a 32-28 come-from-behind win at Scarborough Sept. 15. After blanking visiting Cheverus (38-0), Thornton Academy was humbled at home by defending state champion Bonny Eagle (49-14) before closing with victories at Oxford Hills (40-0), at home over South Portland (49-7) and at Sanford (21-7).

As the No. 2 seed in Class A South, the Golden Trojans earned a bye into the semifinals where they got another shot at third-ranked Bonny Eagle last Saturday and turned the tables on the Scots, 28-24.

Scarborough, which lost to Bonny Eagle in last year’s regional final, came into the 2017 season in an unaccustomed position, viewed as the team to beat.

The Red Storm won their first two contests with ease, 42-0 at Deering and 49-15 over visiting Sanford, but a 32-28 home loss to Thornton Academy followed in a game Scarborough let a fourth quarter lead slip away.

“We learned (in the first game against TA) we couldn’t take anything for granted and it woke the coaches up too,” Johnson said. “We went from a zone coverage team on defense to man coverage and we went to a different style offense and got Flaker more involved. It made us work harder.”

The Red Storm returned to form by handling host Massabesic (63-14), visiting South Portland (48-21), host Windham (66-7) and visiting Oxford Hills (49-0), before closing the regular year with a stunning and decisive 35-14 win at Bonny Eagle.

As the top seed in Class A South, Scarborough earned a bye into the semifinals, where it had no problem last Friday with No. 5 Sanford, rolling, 53-15.

In the regular season meeting, Sept. 15, the Red Storm led most of the way, but the Golden Trojans outscored Scarborough, 18-7, in the fourth quarter and rallied late to improve to 16-1 all-time in the series.

Thornton Academy had won three of four prior playoff encounters (see sidebar, below), but the most recent meeting went to Scarborough a year ago, when it rallied for a dramatic 36-29 win in Saco in the semifinals.

This time around, the Red Storm carried play from start to finish in an absolutely dominating performance.

Scarborough got the ball first and three plays and 1 minute, 34 seconds later, had the lead for good.

Dudley bobbled the opening kickoff and the Red Storm started at their 19, but after Panyi kept the ball for seven yards and Garrard picked up a yard, Flaker got the ball on a run to his right, found a hole, then blew threw it before turning on his nonpareil jets to race all the way to the end zone 73 yards away. Sophomore Liam McDonnell added the extra point and with 10:26 to play in the first period, Scarborough was ahead, 7-0.

“We got out here, got warmed up and felt good,” Garrard said. “We knew both teams had to deal with (the cold), so we didn’t think too much about it.”

“We wanted to come out and get off to a good start,” Johnson said. “We had a good first drive. We were consistent on the ground. The offensive line did a great job. The wind calmed down right before the game started and it got a little more comfortable. The wind was at our back on the sidelines. It was cold, but at least it was dry. It made some of our throws difficult, but our ability to control the ball in our run game was important.”

Thornton Academy’s first possession ended with a three-and-out, as Dow lost a yard, junior CJ LaBreck picked up six yards and on third-and-5, junior Anthony Bracamonte was held to a yard by Sendrowski.

The Red Storm got the ball back at their 49 and threatened again, but came up empty.

After Garrard ran for seven yards and Flaker picked up six to move the chains, Panyi lost two yards and after he ran for nine, the quarterback lost three yards, setting up fourth-and-6, but after scrambling out of trouble, Panyi hit senior Jaquan Seme for 23 yards and a first down at the Golden Trojans’ 11. Panyi then ran for a yard and for five-yards before hitting senior Reece Lagerquist out of bounds in the end zone. On fourth down, Panyi passed to Lagerquist, but the big receiver was held to no gain and Thornton Academy got the ball back on downs at its 5.

Again, Scarborough’s defense rose up, as after Bracamonte picked up 11 yards for a first down, Bracamonte gained four yards, Dow gained a yard and on third down, sophomore Kobe Gaudette, who for the second straight week was filling in at quarterback for classmate Will Mitchell, whose absence was unexplained, threw incomplete.

After a punt, the Red Storm got the ball back at their 44 late in the first quarter and marched 56 yards in four plays and 1:44 in a drive that continued into the second period to double their lead.

After Dudley ran for five yards on first down, he fumbled, but Griffin pounded on the loose ball. Garrard then ran for seven- and for 10-yards for a first down at the Golden Trojans’ 34 as the first period ended (Scarborough had a 149-22 edge in yardage in the first 12 minutes).

On the first play of the second stanza, Garrard got the ball again and bulled through the line and left the defense in his wake en route to a 34-yard scamper. McDonnell’s PAT extended the lead to 14-0.

Thornton Academy started at its 35 after the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, but again went nowhere, as Bracamonte was held to no gain, Gaudette kept the ball for four yards, then, after a false start penalty, Gaudette threw incomplete, forcing a kick.

After just a 16-yard punt, Scarborough started at midfield and in seven plays and 4:04, marched for another score.

Garrard started the drive with runs of six- and four-yards for a first down. After a false start penalty, Garrard gained 19 yards to move the ball to the Golden Trojans’ 26. After Panyi kept the ball for four yards, Flaker gained seven and Garrard ran for two. That set the stage for some razzle-dazzle, as Garrard got the handoff and started left, but instead of keeping the ball, he gave it to Dudley racing the other way and Dudley ran into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown on the reverse with 6:03 to play in the half. McDonnell’s extra point extended the Red Storm’s advantage to 21-0.

Things then went from bad to worse for Thornton Academy, as after LaBreck gained three yards, a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty backed them up five yards and Bracamonte picked up one yard, the Golden Trojans got a first down on an 18-yard strike from Gaudette to LaBreck, but the ensuing snap was fumbled and Scarborough sophomore Sean Shackford fell on the ball at the Thornton Academy 48 with 3:46 to go in the half.

The Red Storm then drove 48 yards in seven plays and 3:13 to break it open even further.

After a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass, Garrard broke free for 25 yards. After Garrard ran for two yards, then was held to no gain, Flaker picked up six yards and on fourth-and-2, Panyi barely picked up the necessary yardage to move the chains. Flaker then added to the lead, taking a pitch, running to his right, then, after a slight hole opened, Flaker broke through it and beat the pursuit to the pylon for a 17-yard touchdown with 33.4 seconds remaining in the half. McDonnell’s PAT gave Scarborough a 28-0 lead, which carried into the break.

In the first 24 minutes, the Red Storm had a commanding 281-39 edge in yardage, thanks in large part to 117 yards from Garrard and 109 from Flaker.

Little changed in the second half, other than the clock running after Scarborough’s fifth touchdown of the night.

Thornton Academy got the ball first in the third quarter and began to move, as Dow picked up three yards and LaBreck picked up nine. After Bracamonte ran for five yards and Gaudette gained seven for a first down at the 35, a bad exchange led to a five-yard loss and after Gaudette threw incomplete, he was intercepted by Seme, who returned the ball 43 yards to the Golden Trojans’ 4.

“That was a huge momentum swing and we got going from there,” Garrard said. “We knew we had to keep it going to get the ‘W.’ Last year and this year, we’ve thrived in the second half. We make adjustments at halftime, come out and execute.”

It took the Red Storm just one play to take advantage, as Dudley scored on a 4-yard run to the left and with 8:23 to go in the third, after McDonnell added the extra point, the lead was 35-0 and a running clock began.

While Scarborough’s offense gets the lion’s share of attention, its defense is pretty good too and one defender in particular, Griffin, can be close to unstoppable.

On Thornton Academy’s next possession, Griffin’s transcendence was on full display.

Starting at their 33, the Golden Trojans first gave the ball to Dow, who was tackled for a two-yard loss to Griffin, then to Bracamonte, who was thrown for a five-yard loss by Griffin, then Dow again, who was brought down for a seven-yard loss by Griffin.

If Griffin’s three straight tackles for 14-yards worth of losses didn’t turn enough heads, he added the punctuation mark when he got his hand on Dow’s ensuing punt.

“Coach came up to me and said, ‘It looks like the end, but we need one more’ and I wanted to be the one to pick everyone up,” Griffin said. “He egged me on.”

“We knew we had a good defense and we had to prove it tonight and we did,” Garrard said. “Anthony is a mismatch. He’s like 6-7. It’s hard to block him. We use him as a weapon and he does a great job.”

The Red Storm started at the Thornton Academy 24 and again, it took just one play to hit paydirt, as Panyi kept the ball and broke through the defense en route to a 24-yard touchdown run with 4:57 to go in the third.

“We changed up the offense and hit harder on defense tonight,” Panyi said. “We couldn’t throw that much, but we didn’t have to. We ran and it was successful. I love my linemen. They’re a big reason why we’re here.”

McDonnell’s PAT extended the lead to 42-0.

The Golden Trojans then went three-and-out again, as Gaudette ran for eight yards, LaBreck was held to no gain and Gaudette was thrown for a one-yard loss by Lagerquist, forcing a punt.

With less than a minute to go in the frame, Scarborough started at its 30 and in seven plays and 4:22, drove for its final score.

After Garrard got things started with a 21-yard scamper, Garrard ran for five yards on the last play of the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth, Panyi kept the ball for 25 yards and a first down at the 19. Garrard picked up five yards, senior Drew Nichols ran for one and after Garrard gained a dozen, moving the pile almost 10 yards after initial contact, Sendrowski capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run with 8:36 to go. McDonnell’s PAT made it 49-0.

The visitors started to move on their next drive, as after Dow lost a yard, Bracamonte ran for 12 and Dow picked up seven to put the ball at the Red Storm 48. Gaudette then kept the ball and gained four yards, but he fumbled and Scarborough sophomore Zach Alofs came up with the ball at the Red Storm 43.

Scarborough sent its second string offense on to the field and after a bad snap led to a 25-yard loss, a fumble was recovered by Thornton Academy at the Red Storm 16 and that allowed the Golden Trojans to finally get on the board.

After Dow ran for three-, then eight-yards, Dow got the ball again and scored on a 5-yard rush with 1:27 to play. Sophomore Brady Forbes added the extra point, but that was Thornton Academy’s lone highlight and Scarborough got the ball back, took a pair of knees and at 8:56 p.m., celebrated its 49-7 victory.

“We really wanted to come out fast and battle hard,” Garrard said. “The line up front did a great job. That was the key to our game. When we played them in the regular season, we gave up big plays. Tonight we wanted to limit those and we did. We knew last game, we had over 100 yards in penalties and a lot of turnovers. Tonight, we wanted to come out, show what we’ve about and we did that.”

“We feel good,” Griffin said. “It’s by far the coldest night, but we knew we had to come out firing and use our game plan. We were ready.”

Flaker’s big-play ability sparked the Red Storm offense, as his five carries resulted in 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Garrard wasn’t as flashy, but he gained 160 yards on 16 attempts, while scoring once.

“In six of the games we’ve played, Owen only played a half and he plays with a lot of other good players who need to get their carries, so on a different team, his numbers would be astronomical,” Johnson said. “He’s the most unselfish kid. In my opinion, he’s the best player in the state. No one affects both sides of the ball the way he does. He doesn’t say much, but he plays so hard. He’s the best leader for our team.”

Panyi threw just four passes, completing two, for 23 yards. He ran nine times for 47 yards with a touchdown.

Dudley carried three times, scoring on two of those runs, gaining 22 yards.

The Red Storm managed 350 yards, were only penalized three times for 25 yards and committed just one turnover.

Thornton Academy, which mustered just 90 yards, turned the ball over three times and were penalized twice for 10 yards.

Coronation

Scarborough will make its second-ever state game appearance next weekend (the Red Storm edged Belfast, 14-12, in the 2002 Class B state game).

Scarborough struggled through a lot of lean years in Class A before Johnson took over, then the Red Storm fought to get over the hump until finally breaking through Friday to move to the precipice of history.

Scarborough has no playoff history with Windham. The Red Storm dominated the host Eagles, 66-7, back on Oct. 6.

Suffice it to say that Scarborough will be the heavy favorite next Saturday in the Class A state final.

Don’t expect the Red Storm to take anything for granted, however.

“It feels great to go to states,” Panyi said. “We played (Windham) earlier and they’re a good team. We’ll work hard to get ready for them.”

“We get one more game,” Garrard said. “We have to have a great week of practice and get the momentum going from there.”

“We have to show up, we can’t goof around and we have to work hard,” Griffin said.

“We talk about not worrying about the hype and playing with poise and composure and playing hard with great effort and letting the chips fall where they may,” Johnson added. “These guys have played in a lot of big games and it won’t be hard to get these guys ready to play one more. They’ll want to play well and they’ll want to win the Gold Ball. The seniors are smart kids and they’ll figure it out. We’ll go out and play our game and spread the ball around.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Scarborough senior quarterback Zoltan Panyi throws a pass on the run.

Scarborough senior Owen Garrard barrels over Thornton Academy senior Cam Houde.

Scarborough sophomore Jarret Flaker leaves the Thornton Academy defense in his wake en route to the second of his two first half touchdown runs.

Scarborough senior Cody Dudley runs past Thornton Academy senior Jordan Sharpe.

Scarborough senior Andrew Griffin throws Thornton Academy junior Anthony Bracamonte for a loss.

Scarborough senior Jeremy Sendrowski crosses the goal line with the Red Storm’s final touchdown.

Scarborough sophomore Jarret Flaker, left, celebrates a touchdown with senior Connor Kelly.

Despite the frigid conditions, a big crowd turned out for Friday’s contest.

Scarborough senior captains Owen Garrard, left, Zoltan Panyi, Ben Hughes and Alex Bryer receive the regional championship trophy.

Previous Scarborough stories

Season Preview

Scarborough 49 Sanford 15

Thornton Academy 32 Scarborough 28

Previous Scarborough-Thornton Academy playoff results

2016 Class A South semifinals
Scarborough 36 Thornton Academy 29

2015 Class A South semifinals
Thornton Academy 35 Scarborough 0

2014 Western A South semifinals
Thornton Academy 50 Scarborough 20

2012 Western A South semifinals
Thornton Academy 49 Scarborough 14

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.