Football is one of the oldest sports at Thornton Academy. Thornton sponsored its first football team in 1893 when Coach Joseph T. Shaw guided the Maroon and Gold to a York County championship. The original home of Thornton Academy football was the Saco Driving Park, a horse racing facility located west of the campus. Visiting teams and many spectators used the adjacent railroad as a means to travel to the games. Thornton Academy football achieved great success there prior to the turn of the century; they won three state championships beginning in 1896, and their 1898 squad was coached by former Harvard All-American football player, John Moulton.
For many years, Thornton Academy football played its games at the Thornton Academy Athletic Complex, a field located across from the Main Street campus at the site of the current Rite Aid. Teams used a building located next to the Headmaster’s residence for pregame and halftime meetings with the coaching staff, and the Saco Police assisted their crossing Main Street by holding up traffic in both directions. The biggest rivals for Thornton Academy during this era were St. Louis High School in Biddeford and Biddeford High School, whom the Maroon and Gold would traditionally play on Veterans Day.
Today, Dr. Paul S. Hill, Jr. Stadium is the home of Golden Trojan football. Dr. Hill was a local Saco physician and president of the Thornton Academy Board of Trustees. He also served as the school physician and was a fixture on the sideline at Thornton Academy games. Dr. Hill made a generous donation to the school to build an on-campus athletic facility; the first game played there was an exhibition contest with Biddeford played following the dedication of the stadium on September 6, 1980. Three remnants of the old facility were relocated to Hill Stadium—the goalposts, the visitors bleachers, and the entrance archway/ticket booth (built as a Depression-era WPA project).
Thornton Academy football can boast some of the top football coaches in the history of the sport in Maine. After debuting with a winless season in 1930, Robert Bowie coached three undefeated state championship teams in the next four years; he later became the Thornton Academy headmaster. George Martin led Thornton Academy to an overall record of 56-5-5 and five state titles from 1935-1942. Known for coaching in his trademark fedora, Martin left his position at Thornton to serve in the military with distinction during World War II. Bob Cote moved from rival St. Louis High School to coach Thornton from 1970-1984 and collected 81 victories at the academy; he was later inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame. Dick Agreste guided the fortunes of Thornton football from 1985-1996 and won two state Class A state championships (1986, 1988). Today Kevin Kezal is in his twentieth season as head coach of the Golden Trojans. He is the program’s winningest coach with 142 victories, and four of his teams (2012, 2014, 2015, 2018) have won the championship Gold Ball.
Thornton Academy football has also featured some outstanding individual performers. Hilary Mahaney was an all-state fullback in the early 1900’s who later went on to star at Holy Cross University. Talented fullback Lloyd “Swede” Anderson and end Hugh Brownlee were star players for state championship teams during George Martin’s championship runs. Gordon Pendleton (1947), Robert Tims (1952), and Bradley Leach (1955) earned All-American honors while donning the Maroon and Gold. Three Thornton Academy players—Bob Giroux (1986), Art Leveris (1991), and Michael Laverriere (2016) were awarded the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy as being the state’s top high school senior football player. Leveris, Laverriere, Andrew Libby (2012), and, most recently, Anthony Bracamonte (2018) have been named Maine Gatorade Football Player of the Year. Throughout the program’s history, 128 Thornton Academy football players have been accorded all-state honors.
Thornton Academy conducts its football workouts at both an on-campus practice facility and at Dr. Paul S. Hill, Jr. Stadium. The varsity team traditionally plays its games on Saturdays at 1:30pm; in recent years, one Friday night home game has been added to the yearly schedule. Varsity players who may be less experienced have an opportunity to participate in junior varsity games on Mondays. Thornton Academy also has a freshman team that competes against schools in southern Maine and northern New England.