HAMPDEN — The top-seeded Medomak Valley football team had revenge on its mind in the Class C North championship game on Friday night, Nov. 11 against No. 2 Hermon.

Last season, the Hawks bounced the Panthers — also then the top seed — from the regional playoffs.

Medomak Valley’s Xavier Woodbury (57), Wyatt Simmons (12) and Marshall Addy. Photo by Ken Waltz

Medomak Valley not only was able to get that monkey off their back on Friday against the Hawks, but reached a significant milestone in the process.

The Panthers got another yeoman effort from senior running back Hayden Staples, controlled the clock from start to finish and made key defensive plays down the stretch of the second half en route to an emphatic 40-20 regional championship win over the Hawks on the turf field at Hampden Academy.

Medomak Valley’s Hayden Staples. Photo by Ken Waltz

It was the first regional football championship for Medomak Valley High School, which only became a full-fledged varsity sport in 2018.

“It feels amazing,” said Staples. “I don’t even know how to feel right now. When we first started we never thought we’d make it here. It feels real good.”

Medomak Valley players hold their plaque. Photo by Ken Waltz

With the win in front of hundreds of supportive fans in rainy second-half conditions, Medomak Valley (9-2) advanced to the state Class C championship game, where it will face Leavitt of Turner (10-0), a 43-0 South regional final winner over No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (8-3), for the title on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m. at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.

Team members for Medomak Valley, coached by Ryan Snell, include Blake Morrison, Gabe Lash, Jaiden Starr, Liam Wilson, Devin Secotte, Staples, Chase Peaslee, Kory Donlin, Wyatt Simmons, Wyatt Simmons, Anthony Francis, Gatlin Bedenik, Brody Vigue, Austin Wilshire, Jay Jones, Ethan Wood, Aaron Reed, Logan Vigue, Gabe White, Josh Blake, Shamus Pease, Grady Pease, Gauge Boyington, Gabe Jones, Brayden Ciasullo, Gavin Clark, Tucker Holgerson, Porter Gahagan, Kaden Wright, Gage McIntyre, Isaac Simmons, Cole Bales, Marshall Addy, Xavier Woodbury, Jaxon Day, Donnie Havener, Roger Steele, Steven Wheeler, Kayden Johnson, Gage Austin, Nathan Gess, Sam Moody Luke Camber, Jonathan Brann, Walker Simmons, Bryent Harvey, Connor Light, Coleby Ridgley, Colby Buck and Levi Simmons. The managers are Ashley Abruzese, Kaylee Kurr, Landen Stewart and Claudia Feeley. The assistant coaches are Jason Stewart, Ryan DiPompo, Chad Light, Tyeler Stewart and Keith Simmons.

Medomak Valley’s Isaac Simmons (52) leads the Panthers on to the field. Photo by Ken Waltz

Team members for Hermon, coached by Kyle Gallant, include Chasen Flanders, Johnny Kokoska, Dillon Kimball, Zach Lovely, Nate Sullivan, Gavin Coombs, Xavier Jelks, Dylan Phair, Atley Glidden, Caleb Doughty, Colvin Hamm, Michael Rene, Bruce Coulter, Gary Glidden, Max Hopkins, Colby Scripture, Kobe Hills, Damon Kimball, Alec Smith, Justin Largay, Gavin Lemos, Bradyen Newman, Carter Moses, Gavin Facella, Anthony Addessi, Mason Morin, Kayden Patten, Hunter Kenna, Gavin Applebee, Ben Lord, Ben Curtis, Richard Romesburg, Jacob Murzyn, Ashton Harriman, Connor Emery, James Brocato, Jaykob Dow, Porter Flanders, Evan Decker, Darius Miranda, Rylee Vaillancourt and Dominic Martin. The assistant coaches are Matt Farnham, Gary Swoboda, Troy Bennett, Connor Patten, Ryan Waning, Seth Bussell and Andrew Bouchard.

In Friday’s regional final, Staples rushed for 163 yards on 36 carries and accounted for three rushing touchdowns to pace the steady Medomak Valley rushing attack. Peaslee also rushed for 20 yards on four carries and a touchdown, while Wilson added a two-yard touchdown run for the Panthers.

Medomak Valley’s Blake Morrison, front, hauls in a touchdown pass. Photo by Ken Waltz

The higher-seed also got a 45-yard touchdown pass from Wyatt Simmons to Morrison, while Clark booted four extra points.

“It feels great,” said Morrison. “Happy to be part of the team that did it first. I’m ready for next week.”

Light, the Panthers’ senior left tackle, called the win “the best feeling in the world.”

“There’s nothing like it,” he said. “It’s crazy. We felt like all year we’ve gotten disrespected by all sorts of people and all sorts of other teams. And it just feels really good to win it all in the end.”

Medomak Valley’s Gavin Clark (35) kicks an extra point. Photo by Ken Waltz

Gary Glidden rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries and scored 20 points for Hermon on a pair of rushing touchdowns, a two-point conversion and a long kickoff return for a TD late in the fourth quarter.

Medomak Valley, which also beat the Hawks 14-12 to end the regular season, established the run from the onset Friday as Staples capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard TD run with 5:48 to go in the first quarter. Clark’s extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 edge.

After Hermon turned the ball over on four plays, the Panthers turned a short field into a six-play, 29-yard drive that culminated with Staples’ second score — this time from four yards — to take a 13-0 advantage.

Medomak Valley’s Nathan Gess walks on the sideline in the rain. Photo by Ken Waltz

The Hawks got on the board on their ensuing possession with a five-yard touchdown run by Glidden with 9:22 to go in the half, but the Panthers methodically controlled the clock and cashed in on a two-yard plunge by Peaslee with 20 seconds left in the half to take a 20-6 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the Panthers were aided by a handful of Hawk penalties, while the No. 1 squad’s defense helped it assume control of the game.

Medomak Valley’s Hayden Staples, left, with one of his many carries on the night. Photo by Ken Waltz

Hermon cut its deficit to 20-14 after a nine-yard TD run by Glidden with 5:20 to go in the third, but the Hawks gave the Panthers terrific field position on their ensuing possession on a personal-foul penalty after a short Staples rush.

Then, the Panthers dialed up their first pass of the game as Wyatt Simmons found a wide open Morrison over the top for a 45-yard touchdown down the right sideline with 4:40 to go in the third quarter.

The play put the Panthers ahead 26-14 and proved to be a momentum killer for the Hawks.

Medomak Valley’s Porter Gahagan. Photo by Ken Waltz

“It just happened to work out when it did,” said Morrison. “I don’t think they were ready for it. It happened to be perfect timing to call the play.”

Hermon’s next possession ended in an interception by Bedenik on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The next Medomak Valley possession resulted in the first punt of the game for either team, but the Panthers were able to bleed more precious time off the clock.

Medomak Valley’s Gabe Lash (1), among others. Photo by Ken Waltz

The Panther defense continued to swarm as Hermon quarterback Kokoska was sacked on two of the Hawks’ next three plays — once by Bedenik and Addy and the second time by Gahagan and Woodbury — before Hermon turned the ball over on an incomplete pass.

Medomak Valley took over on its own nine-yard line with 7:30 to go and needed just three rushes from Wilson, who scored on a two-yard run with 5:57 to play, as the Panthers took their largest lead at 33-14.

Gahagan made his second significant play in as many possessions as he picked off a Kokoska screen pass with 5:26 to play, which all but clinched the game for the Panthers.

“Our defense came up huge,” said Staples. “Gatlin with that interception and Porter with that one. It just all came together when we needed it to.”

“I think a lot of guys on the defense had a big game,” Morrison said. “Our offensive line was great and Hayden was running it good all night. We were working hard all night and it paid off.”

The higher-seed chewed up the clock and Staples cashed in on his third TD of the night with 1:31 to play.

Glidden returned a long kickoff for a touchdown for Hermon, but Medomak Valley went straight to victory formation moments later as the clock ticked down on the team’s first regional title.

And now the Panthers, led by a group of 16 seniors, are hungry to go out on top together.

“We’ve all been playing together since like fifth grade, sixth grade,” said Light. “And it all culminates here. We’ve got one more to go.”

Cape Elizabeth won the state Class C title in 2021 and Leavitt in 2019. There was no game in 2020 due to the pandemic.