PORTLAND — Anthony Bracamonte put his electrifying stamp on the Class A championship game quickly and often.

The senior slot back scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Kobe Gaudette on the third play from scrimmage. By the time Thornton Academy finished its first unbeaten season since 1986 with Saturday’s 49-14 Class A championship win against Portland at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Bracamonte had four touchdowns, 100 yards rushing and 144 receiving. Two other long Bracamonte scores were negated by penalties.

“We started this on August 13th and we had this day marked on the calendar the whole season,” said Bracamonte. “We practiced hard through the cold, through the rain. We worked hard every single second of it so we deserve this.”

The game was billed as a meeting of two rock-solid run defenses with a sense the winner would need to get production from its pass game.

South region champ Thornton (11-0) did that. Gaudette completed 7 of 10 passes for 162 yards and four touchdowns – three to Bracamonte and a 22-yarder to a wide-open Derek Madore to close out a 35-7 first half.

“It’s nice to have a player like (Bracamonte) who can do everything on his own. Well, not on his own, but who can make things happen,” Gaudette said.


Portland (9-2) lost in the state final for the third time in four seasons. Portland did not complete a pass and was called for 14 penalties for 115 yards. Zack Elowitch rushed for 244 yards on 34 carries, with touchdown runs of 67 and 66 yards, often from a Wildcat formation, but the rest of the Portland offense accounted for four yards.

“We just needed to stay composed and I guess we just didn’t coach them up well,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “When we didn’t make penalties we scored.”

After Bracamonte’s first touchdown, Portland returner Ben Stasium, apparently thinking he was in the end zone, downed the kickoff at the 1. After a three-and-out, Bracamonte returned the punt 34 yards for the score just 2:44 into the game.

Portland’s next possession ended quickly with a Grant Dow interception of Sam Knopp at the Bulldogs 26. Bracamonte (16 rushes, 100 yards) and Isaac Ofielu (15-101) alternated carries before Dow plowed in from the 1. Brady Forbes’ third of seven extra-point kicks put Thornton ahead 21-0 barely six minutes into the game.

After Elowitch’s first touchdown, Portland recovered a Bracamonte fumble at the Thornton 31 with 9:20 left in the half. The chance to get back in the game ended with an Elowitch punt. Thornton rumbled 86 yards in six plays, with Thomas Palmer scoring on a 2-yard run.

An Elowitch fumble set up the Gaudette-to-Madore touchdown 2:57 before the half.


In the third quarter Gaudette and Bracamonte connected for scores from 31 and 8 yards to stretch the lead to 49-7, the first score initiating running time because the margin had reached 35 points.

In 2017, all three state finals played at Fitzpatrick were running-time wins for South teams.

Thornton never trailed this season.

“It was a great team effort, really proud of how far this team came this year and couldn’t ask for a better ending,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal.

Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte hauls in a pass as Portland’s Ben Stasium moves in for the tackle during the Class A state championship football game at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday.

Thornton’s Ethan Logan, left, holds the championship trophy, which reflects other TA players celebrating their 49-14 victory over Portland in the Class A state championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland on Saturday.

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