Medomak Valley celebrates winning the Class C North football championship over Hermon 40-20 at Hampden Academy on Friday night. Credit: Adam Robinson | BDN

Medomak Valley set the tone early in its rematch with Hermon in the Class C North championship football game.

The Panthers exclusively ran the ball on their first two drives, both ending in touchdowns, on their way to a 40-20 victory to clinch their spot in the Class C championship game at Cameron Stadium in Bangor next Saturday.

No. 1 Medomak (9-2) will face the winner of tomorrow’s Leavitt and Cape Elizabeth C South final.

Medomak began the game with an overwhelming running attack that put two touchdowns on the board early.

Hayden Staples ran nine of the first 10 plays for Medomak and capped the first drive off with a two-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers ahead 7-0 with 5:48 left in the first quarter.

“Just keep running up the middle, go down the field and it paid off and worked,” Staples said of the mentality to start the game. “They got on us eventually but we have other kids and we used them. We just wanted to get it started. I wasn’t going to let up, I wanted this game and everyone else did.”

No. 2 Hermon (7-4) struggled on its first drive and tried a fake punt that failed to convert a first down. Medomak started with the ball on Hermon’s 29-yard line and Staples ran six more times and finished the drive with a four-yard score that gave the Panthers a 13-0 lead with one minute remaining in the period.

Gary Glidden and the Hermon offense kicked into gear during their second drive of the game.

At the end of a 60-yard drive, Glidden punched in a five-yard touchdown run to pull the Hawks within 13-6 with 9:22 to play in the half.

The Panthers would go on to bleed more time off the clock with a 14-play drive.

Chase Peaslee ran in a two-yard touchdown up the middle with 20 seconds left in the first half, and Gavin Clark kicked a successful extra point to give Medomak Valley a 20-6 advantage at the half.

Staples ran for 124 of his 147 yards on the ground in the first half.

“I liked the tenacity up front,” Medomak coach Ryan Snell said. “Our linemen have led us all year. Hayden is a heck of a back. He’s had big games against the best teams, and he really set the tone for us to start.”

Hermon reached into its bag of tricks in the third quarter with a running back pass on a reverse handoff, as Bruce Coulter threw a 14-yard pass to quarterback Johnny Kokoska to set up a nine-yard touchdown run by Glidden.

Wyatt Simmons threw the ball for the first time on Medomak’s ensuing drive and threw  a 45-yard touchdown pass to Blake Morrison. The extra point was no good, but the Panthers held a 26-14 lead with 4:40 to play in the third.

It would be mostly all Medomak from that point, as the Panthers would intercept Hermon’s Kokoska twice and get two-yard touchdown runs from Liam Wilson and Staples.

“We just made some mistakes, that’s all,” Hermon coach Kyle Gallant said. “I’m not going to dwell on it. We’ve had a great year on and off the field, and I am so proud of our guys. One thing I am proud of is we lost to a really good Medomak team and our guys held their heads high through defeat. They’re way better people than I’ll ever be.”

After Staples’ touchdown with 1:30 left to play that gave the Panthers a 40-14 lead, Glidden ran back a 91-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff to make it 40-20, but the onside kick was no good and Medomak was able to run the clock out.

Gallant spoke after the game about his pride that the Hawks gave him and how important the senior class was to Hermon this season.

“I’m gonna have an emotional night tonight,” Gallant said. “I won’t let the kids see it but I’ll have an emotional night missing those seven seniors. They’ll do some great things. Hopefully the underclassmen, this makes them hungry. We’ve been to three of these and lost three and I’ll take the blame for them.”

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.