Scarborough gets closer, but stymied by TA again

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Thornton Academy senior quarterback Michael Laverriere is brought down by Scarborough junior Owen Garrard during the teams’ showdown Friday night. Laverriere rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 51 more yards and another TD as the two-time defending Class A state champion Golden Trojans improved to 5-0 with a 34-19 victory.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Thornton Academy 34 Scarborough 19

TA- 7 14 6 7- 34
S- 6 6 7 0- 19

First quarter
TA- Bracamonte 9 pass from Laverriere (Cadorette kick)
S- Panyi 69 run (kick failed)

Second quarter
TA- Laverriere 15 run (Cadorette kick)
S- Garrard 1 run (rush failed)
TA- Laverriere 24 run (Cadorette kick) 

Third quarter
TA- Bracamonte 92 kickoff return (rush failed)
S- Garrard 2 run (Peoples kick) 

Fourth quarter 
TA- Laverriere 6 run (Cadorette kick) 

SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s football team has demonstrated that it has the physicality, skill and will to play with the best squads in the state.

What the Red Storm are lacking, however, is poise and self-discipline and for the second time this fall, Scarborough’s penchant for shooting itself in the foot possibly cost it a seismic upset win Friday evening.

Three weeks after nearly knocking off preseason favorite Bonny Eagle, only to fail to execute in key situations, the Red Storm welcomed the state’s gold standard, the two-time defending Class A state champion Thornton Academy Golden Trojans, in a key midseason tilt at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.

Scarborough was every bit the prolific Golden Trojans’ equal offensively, but ultimately, eight penalties, a couple untimely dropped passes and an inability to get the defense off the field sealed its doom in an exciting contest which needed nearly all 48 minutes to decide.

When Thornton Academy went right down the field for a 9-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Michael Laverriere to sophomore Anthony Bracamonte to take a quick 7-0 lead, it looked like it might be a long night for the Red Storm, but Scarborough’s junior quarterback, Zoltan Panyi, answered with a 69-yard TD scamper. The hosts couldn’t convert the extra point, but the battle was joined.

In the second period, the Golden Trojans went ahead by a 14-6 score when Laverriere scored from 15 yards out, but again, the Red Storm responded and when junior Owen Garrard scored from a yard out, Scarborough trailed by only two (after failing to punch in the two-point conversion).

Thornton Academy went ahead, 21-12, at halftime, thanks to a 24-yard Laverriere scoring run and when Bracamonte returned the second half kickoff 92 yards to paydirt, it appeared the Golden Trojans were poised to pull away, but again, the Red Storm refused to buckle and they pulled within a score, 27-19, on a 2-yard run from Garrard.

Scarborough had one possession with an opportunity to pull even, but failed to do so and Thornton Academy, behind the indomitable Laverriere, chewed up the clock and got a clinching score from their quarterback, when he scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter and the Golden Trojans held on for a 34-19 victory.

Thornton Academy improved to 5-0, improved to 15-0 all-time in the series, took another step toward becoming the first Class A three-peat champion and dropped the Red Storm to 3-2 in the process.

“(Scarborough’s) a good offensive team,” said Golden Trojans coach Kevin Kezal. “They have a lot of weapons and they’re well coached. You won’t stop them all the time, so when you have a chance to get off the field, you have to make the plays. They’re a good program year in, year out.”

“Our guys didn’t give up,” said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. “In years past, if we got down by a couple scores, we might not have kept fighting, but these guys hung in there until the final whistle.”


Entering play Friday, since the teams began playing in 2005, Thornton Academy had won all 11 regular season meetings, including a 48-7 home decision a year ago, and all three playoff encounters, including a 35-0 win in last year’s semifinal round (see sidebar below). While the Red Storm came close in 2005 (7-6) and 2013 (19-15), the Golden Trojans’ average margin of victory in those prior 14 games was 33-8.

This fall, Thornton Academy scored a whopping 127 points in its first two games, outslugging host Sanford, 62-27, and dominating host Cheverus, 65-0. In their home opener, the Golden Trojans pulled away in the second half to defeat Deering, 56-13, but last weekend, Thornton Academy was pushed the wire by visiting Windham before holding on for a 17-13 win.

Scarborough’s season began with great promise thanks to  a 14-13 upset win at defending Class A North champion Portland. The Red Storm then had their chances to beat visiting Bonny Eagle, but squandered them in a 21-7 loss. After blanking visiting Massabesic, 49-0, Scarborough beat host Sanford, 21-12, last Friday.

Friday evening, on a chilly night that felt more like October than September, the Red Storm hoped to close the gap between themselves and the defending champions, but Thornton Academy made enough plays to prevail.

Scarborough got the ball first and embarked on a promising drive into Golden Trojans’ territory, but in a harbinger of frustration to come, the Red Storm couldn’t score.

Garrard was the workhorse early, rushing twice for eight yards before Panyi hit senior Drew LeClair, who broke two tackles for a 21-yard catch and run to the Thornton Academy 41. Garrard ran for three yards, then senior Aren Dickman picked up six, but an illegal procedure penalty backed Scarborough up five yards, Panyi threw incomplete, then on fourth-and-6, Panyi’s pass to senior Peter Mazzaro only gained three yards, giving the Golden Trojans the ball on downs at their 34 with 8:25 to go in the first quarter.

Nine plays and 4:23 later, Thornton Academy had the jump.

Laverriere kept the ball the first two plays, but only gained a yard. Then, Laverriere rolled right, waited and waited, then hit senior Cam Cadorette for 14 yards and a first down at the 49 and that play got the Golden Trojans’ offensive machine rolling.

Laverriere then ran for 24 yards into Red Storm territory and after Scarborough junior Cody Dudley threw Bracamonte for a three-yard loss, Laverriere ran for a dozen yards, then picked up two more for a first down at the 16. After rushing for seven yards, Laverriere threw to Bracamonte in the flat and Bracamonte spun out of a tackle and found his way across the goal line. Cadorette added the extra point and with 4:02 to play in the first period, the Golden Trojans led, 7-0.

It took the Red Storm all of one play to answer, as Panyi kept the ball, ran up the gut, broke free and beat the pursuit to the end zone to complete a 69-yard run with 3:43 remaining in the first. Senior Emmett Peoples missed the PAT wide left, however, and Thornton Academy held on to a one-point advantage.

The visitors then marched 70 yards in nine plays and 4:51 in a drive which bridged the end of the first period and the start of the second.

After Bracamonte ran for four yards, the Golden Trojans were backed up five yards by a false start. That proved to be no problem, as Laverriere hit Cadorette for 16 yards, then ran for 14 more, weaving through the defense and breaking tackles to the Red Storm 31. After Scarborough senior Dakota Joy held sophomore C.J. Labreck to no gain and Thornton Academy took a delay of game penalty, followed by an illegal procedure penalty, Laverriere ran for eight yards, then picked up six more to set up fourth-and-6 at the 27 as the second quarter began.

The Golden Trojans moved the chains, as Laverriere found sophomore Jason Montano for nine yards along the right sideline to the 18. After Laverriere ran for three yards, he broke free through the line and ran into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown with 10:46 to play in the first half. Cadorette added the PAT for a 14-6 lead.

Again, the Red Storm answered, driving 59 yards in nine plays and 4:28.

After junior Reece Lagerquist couldn’t hold on to a pass from Panyi, Garrard ran for six yards and Dickman scampered for 23 to the Thornton Academy 30. Garrard gained two yards and Panyi hit LeClair for 18, but it was called back due to an illegal procedure penalty After LeClair ran for two yards to set up third-and-11 from the 31, Panyi hit Lagerquist for nine yards and on fourth down, Garrard gained five yards to move the chains. Garrard then nearly got into the end zone, running for 16 yards before being brought down just shy of paydirt by Laverriere, but on the next play, Garrard capped the march with a 1-yard burst to the left with 6:12 left in the half.

Scarborough went for the two-point conversion to pull even, but Panyi’s rush was stopped, keeping the Golden Trojans ahead, 14-12.

Thornton Academy quickly countered with another TD, this one sparked by its special teams and some Red Storm largesse.

Bracamonte took the ensuing kickoff at the 5 and wasn’t stopped until he reached the Scarborough 41, 54 yards later. Making matters worse for the hosts, they were flagged for a personal foul, moving the ball another 15 yards closer. After LaBreck gained two yards, Laverriere kept the ball, hurdling a pile at the line of scrimmage before outrunning the defense for a 24-yard touchdown with 5:22 to play before halftime. Cadorette’s extra point extended the lead to 21-12.

“We made a point of winning the battle up front,” Laverriere said. “Winning the tough yards wins games.”

“Coming into the season, our most experience back was on the line and they’ve done a great job all season,” Kezal said. “We knew Michael would have to carry the load and he played phenomenal for us.”

This time, the Red Storm weren’t able to counter.

Scarborough started at its 31 and gained one first down, but that was it. After Dickman lost a yard and Panyi rushed for five, Panyi hit Dudley for 10 to move the chains. A hold then short-circuited the drive and on the next play, Panyi’s pass was intercepted by Cadorette at the Thornton Academy 30.

The Golden Trojans didn’t take advantage of the turnover, however, going three-and-out, as Lagerquist threw Bracamonte for a three-yard loss, junior Anthony Griffin tackled LaBreck for a one-yard loss and after LaBreck gained four yards, the visitors had to punt.

With 1:52 to go before the break, the Red Storm started at their 42, but after an incomplete pass, Scarborough sandwiched a false start and a delay of game penalty around a Panyi one-yard run. Panyi hit Dudley for 16 yards, but that set up fourth-and-3, and an incomplete pass gave Thornton Academy the ball back at midfield with 32.9 seconds remaining.

That’s normally more than enough time for this offense to strike, but Laverriere threw incomplete, then hit Bracamonte for just three yards, bringing the half to a close with the Golden Trojans up, 21-12.

The Red Storm outgained Thornton Academy, 205-165, in the first half, but was stymied by one turnover and six penalties for 45 yards. 

Laverriere rushed a dozen times for 116 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 51 more yards with another TD.

The Golden Trojans began the second half with a bang.

Bracamonte handled the bouncing kickoff at the 8 and ran to the right where he found a seam. Bracamonte then turned on the after-burners and left the Scarborough special teams in his wake, completing a 92-yard scoring return just 14 seconds into the third quarter.

“That was big,” Kezal said. “We’ve been pretty good on special teams and that was a big play. Anthony had a great run and we did a good job blocking on that.”

“I hate to give up plays in special teams,” Johnson said. “Last week, we were great in special teams, but tonight, that return hurt us.”

Thornton Academy went for two, but Laverriere’s rush fell short, keeping the score 27-12.

The Red Storm went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, as Panyi ran for four yards, then threw incomplete before Garrard gained five yards. On fourth-and-1, Johnson decided to punt and the visitors started at their 16.

This time, Scarborough’s defense stepped up, forcing a three-and-out. Laverriere ran for a yard, then Lagerquist threw LaBreck for a three-yard loss before Bracamonte picked up one, setting up fourth-and-11.

After a 23 yard punt from senior Adam Gibbons gave the Red Storm the ball at the Thornton Academy 38 it took all of two plays for them to score.

On the first snap, Panyi hit Lagerquist for 36 yards to the 2. Garrard then swept left for a 2-yard touchdown with 7:18 to play in the third. Peoples added the PAT to cut the deficit to 27-19.

Scarborough’s defense rose up again with a three-and-out, as Griffin tackled Laverriere for no gain, then Laverriere twice threw incomplete. 

With 6:08 left in the quarter, the Red Storm got the ball back at their 40 with the opportunity to tie the game.

And they quickly went three-and-out.

Garrard ran for two yards on first down, Panyi hit junior Jeremy Sendrowski for three, then on third-and-5, Panyi dropped back to throw, but in the biggest defensive play of the night, was sacked for a seven-yard loss by junior Cameron Houde.

Thornton Academy then got its offense going again, as it got the ball at its 42 with 4 minutes to go in the period. 

A dozen running plays, 58 yards and 5:19 later, the Golden Trojans opened up their lead.

LaBreck ran for a yard on first down, then Laverriere picked up eight. Houde then was rewarded for his big play on defense, by getting the ball on offense and he gained six yards to move the chains. After Houde picked up two more yards, Laverriere gained 11 to the Scarborough 30. LaBreck gained four yards and Laverriere ran twice for six yards, but that set up fourth-and-inches at the 20. That was no problem for Laverriere, who fell forward for two yards to move the chains. Laverriere then ran for four yards, picked up nine more for a first-and-goal at the 6, then Laverriere capped the drive with a 6-yard TD run with 10:41 remaining in the game.

Cadorette’s extra point made the score 34-19.

Scarborough had a chance to make things interesting when it drove deep into Thornton Academy territory, but the Red Storm weren’t able to finish their opportunity.

Starting at its 31, Scarborough quickly drove across midfield as Dickman ran for four yards, Garrard ran for 12 and Panyi hit Dudley for 16. After Panyi ran for five yards, he hit Dudley for seven more and a first down at the 25. Garrard rushed for 10 yards to move the chains again, but Dickman was held to no gain, Garrard picked up four yards and after Laverriere broke up a pass to Lagerquist near the goal line, an illegal procedure penalty set up fourth-and-11 from the 16 where Lagerquist couldn’t hold on to Panyi’s pass and the Golden Trojans took over on downs at their 15 with 6:40 to play.

It took more than five minutes for Thornton Academy to give the ball back.

After Houde ran twice for five yards and the Golden Trojans were backed up five yards by an illegal procedure penalty, Laverriere gained 10 yards to set up fourth-and-inches. Scarborough then committed its final and most costly penalty, jumping offsides to move the chains. After Laverriere gained six yards and Houde ran twice for four yards, the visitors faced fourth-and-inches again and Laverriere converted with a one-yard sneak. Montano ran for four yards, then lost four and after Laverriere gained just four yards, Thornton Academy had to punt.

The Red Storm got the ball back at their 32, but only 1:05 remained. After Panyi threw incomplete, Garrard ran for six yards and Panyi hit Sendrowski for four. On fourth-and-inches, Panyi hit Garrard for seven yards. Panyi ran for six yards and after Panyi hit Garrard for two, Panyi ran for three more, but time expired and the Golden Trojans had a 34-19 victory.

“The first few weeks, we rolled through opponents and that’s not realistic,” Laverriere said. “Teams get better, so we had to get better too. Windham punched us in the mouth last week and those are the games we need because come November, it will be like that. Scarborough’s huge. They have a great running back in (Garrard). (Panyi) is a great quarterback who can run. They’ll be a contender because they can make plays and run the ball in November. Scarborough’s kind of like a crosstown rival, so it’s fun to play these guys.”

“We’ve played two really good football teams in Windham and Scarborough,” Kezal said. “We’ve had two tough battles. We were able to grind it out and finish the game off last week and we did it again tonight.”

Laverriere solidified his claim as the Fitzpatrick Trophy favorite by gaining 183 yards with three touchdowns on 26 carries, he threw for 51 yards and another TD on 5-of-8 passing and he also kicked in with strong play on defense and special teams.

“It’s just that he’s so tough,” Johnson said, of Laverriere. “He’s got that big game experience and he wants to lead those guys. He just refuses to go down. No secret he’ll carry the ball 20-25 times. We tried to slow him down. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t. He’s one of the best players in the state. He’s been out here four years doing this. He’s very determined.”

Cadorette had two receptions for 30 yards, Bracamonte caught two passes for 12 yards and Montano had one grab for 9. 

Thornton Academy finished with 252 yards and overcame four penalties for 20 yards.

Scarborough gained 331 yards, but was doomed by eight penalties for 55 yards and committed one turnover.

Panyi went 12-for-21 for 137 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. Panyi also rushed 7 times for 93 yards with a TD. Garrard gained 80 yards and scored twice on 15 carries. Dickman had 32 yards on five attempts. Dudley had four receptions for 52 yards, Lagerquist caught two balls for 45, Garrard had two catches for 9, Sendrowski two for 7, LeClair one for 21 and Mazzaro one for 3.

“I think we’re getting better, but we’re still making too many mental mistakes,” Johnson said. “I think it’s encouraging because defensively we stopped them at times. We moved the ball well. Dickman, Garrard and Panyi all ran well. We stopped ourselves. They didn’t stop us. If we don’t have penalties and if we catch those balls, we’re right there.”

Much to decide

Despite its dominance, Thornton Academy is nowhere close to locking up the top seed in Class A South and likely won’t be able to do that until it closes at Bonny Eagle (which is also unbeaten).

First, the Golden Trojans host Massabesic and South Portland the next two Saturdays.

Thornton Academy has the look of a potential champion, but still has work to do.

“We know we’ll get everyone’s best effort, so we know we have to give our best effort too,” Laverriere said. “We have to eliminate penalties and play clean. We have to play tough and move the chains consistently.”

“We’ll watch film and see what we need to do to improve,” Kezal said. “We’re banged up. We need to get some guys back and try to get better every week.”

Scarborough (third in Class A South) needs to win out to finish as high as possible. The Red Storm are back in action Friday at South Portland and after welcoming Cheverus, finish at Deering.

This is a team no one will want to face in the postseason.

“We’re still playing inexperienced guys, but with three more games, we’ll get there,” Johnson said. “We’ll only get better. We’re not afraid to play anybody in the playoffs.”

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

Scarborough junior quarterback Zoltan Panyi races free for a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Scarborough junior Owen Garrard is brought down just shy of the goal line by Thornton Academy senior Michael Laverriere.

Scarborough junior quarterback Zoltan Panyi throws a pass as sophomore Zachery Reed blocks.

Scarborough junior Jeremy Sendrowski tries to haul in a pass as Thornton Academy senior Michael Laverriere defends.

Scarborough junior Anthony Griffin tackles Thornton Academy sophomore C.J. LaBreck for a loss.

Scarborough junior Cody Dudley looks for running room.

Scarborough senior Matthew Cook, left, and junior Reece Lagerquist tackle a Thornton Academy ball carrier.

Scarborough senior Drew LeClair, left, junior Jeremy Sendrowski and senior Matthew Cook team up to tackle Thornton Academy senior Cam Cadorette.

Previous Scarborough-Thornton Academy results

@ Thornton Academy 48 Scarborough 7
Class A South semifinals
@ Thornton Academy 35 Scarborough 0

Thornton Academy 54 @ Scarborough 0
Western A semifinal
@ Thornton Academy 50 Scarborough 20

@ Thornton Academy 19 Scarborough 15 

@ Thornton Academy 35 Scarborough 7
Western A semifinal
@ Thornton Academy 49 Scarborough 14 

@ Thornton Academy 28 Scarborough 14

Thornton Academy 33 @ Scarborough 7 

@ Thornton Academy 14 Scarborough 6

Thornton Academy 35 @ Scarborough 6

@ Thornton Academy 34 Scarborough 0

Thornton Academy 22 @ Scarborough 13 

@ Thornton Academy 7 Scarborough 6  

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