Noah Carpenter of Leavitt Area High School battles for yards against Cape Elizabeth High School during the Class C South championship game Saturday at Lewiston High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Medomak Valley coach Ryan Snell says that Leavitt made winning look easy at times this season, despite playing what he considered the toughest schedule in the state.

Snell is hoping that doesn’t continue Saturday, when the undefeated South champion Hornets (10-0) face the North champion Panthers (9-2) in the Class C state championship game at 2:30 p.m. at Cameron Stadium in Bangor. But Snell does consider the Panthers to be heavy underdogs.

“Leavitt is a great football community and has a tradition of some great teams. That certainly continues this year,” Snell said. “They’re strong across the board, lot of athletes, no weak spots, they play well and are very sound. Coach (Mike) Hathaway is one of the best to do it. He does a lot for football in the state of Maine and a lot for us coaches. They’re a model program, and to see what he’s done year in and year out over there for years is really impressive and something that programs should be striving for.”

The Panthers, meanwhile, are in their first state final in just their seventh year of varsity football and fifth year of postseason eligibility.

A sense of belief has brought Medomak Valley this far, Snell said.

“Realizing that our goal as a team was more important than any individual’s goals. We really came together as a group on that this year and that put us in this position,” he said.


Leavitt’s players have been together for a long time, many playing alongside each other at the youth level. So it didn’t take much convincing for the Hornets players to get back to work as a group after last year’s regional final loss to eventual Class C state champion Cape Elizabeth.

“Our guys have spent a lot of time in the weight room, at camps and on the practice field together putting in the work,” Hathaway said. “When you go through a tough loss like that, it pulls you together a little more as a team and humbles you a bit as a person. Our guys really owned that loss and made some changes in the way they conducted themselves, both on and off the field. We are more disciplined, tougher-minded and extremely determined to finish this job.”

What Leavitt has accomplished so far has been nothing short of dominant. They have outscored opponents 428-116, and have scored at least five touchdowns in every game except a nail-biting, 21-20 win over Cape Elizabeth in the regular season. The Hornets then routed the Capers 43-0 in a rematch in last week’s Class C South final.

“They beat Portland by five scores (42-8) and Portland is getting ready to play for the Class B state championship,” Snell said.

Hathaway points to the players’ commitment to practice and preparation as the key to season so far.

“Our guys have been pretty dialed in and have not taken anyone lightly,” he added.


The Panthers needed to experience that lesson the hard way, losing to Class D Freeport 19-0 in Week 4. Snell said the team began to refocus the next week despite a 20-7 loss to Class D finalist Lisbon.

“We got guys out there that were not going to overlook anyone,” Snell said.

The top guy for Medomak Valley is running back Hayden Staples, who Hathaway said runs hard and has a good fullback and line in front of him. The Hornets haven’t crossed paths with the Panthers, but Hathaway was able to get a look at some of the Medomak players at this past summer’s Maine Elite Passing Camp, which he helps run, as well as in 7-on-7 summer action.

“Their skill guys are athletic and can make some plays too,” Hathaway said. “…They also mix it up and run some shotgun, so you have a lot there to prepare for.”

Snell said the Panthers can’t afford to turn the ball over because the Hornets’ love to feast on takaways.

Whatever happens in the game, the first state final appearance for Medomak Valley will be as much about the future as it is for the history books.

“We’ll be a heavy underdog. The kids need to focus on what we can control and continue to build for the program like the other players have before them,” Snell said.

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