HAMPDEN — Typically associated with bad luck and negativity, the number 13 also signifies upheaval and powerful change.

Don’t believe it? Just check with the Nokomis’ football team’s last two opponents.

For the second straight week, the fourth-seeded Warriors made 13 hold up, racing out to an early lead before holding Hermon’s all-star quarterback Garrett Trask in check the rest of the way for a 13-6 win over the No. 2 Hawks in the Class C North regional championship Saturday at Hampden Academy. Nokomis quarterback Andrew Haining threw one touchdown pass and converted a 10-yard run for a win-sealing first down with less than 80 seconds remaining in the contest.

In a season of playoff firsts, the victory handed Nokomis its first regional championship just two weeks after collecting the program’s first playoff win and came just two years after a second consecutive winless season for the Warriors.

“I don’t know if I ever could have said I would have expected to play in a state championship, looking back on two 0-8 seasons,” said Haining, who wears uniform No. 13. “The feeling that I’m playing in one (next week), it’s amazing.”

Senior back David Wilson’s workhorse 23-carry effort yielded the Nokomis offense 81 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run. Chance Graves had two receptions for 54 yards, including the other Warrior score on a day fraught by weather conditions. Nokomis finished with just 170 yards of total offense, a mere 23 of those coming in the second half.

“I wouldn’t say we struggled. I think we knew what our game plan was,” Haining said. “The weather for a couple stretches, there was extreme wind and we knew we wouldn’t be able to air it out. We needed to jump on them early, and then ground and pound and keep the lead.”

Nokomis (7-4) will play either Leavitt or Fryeburg for the Class C state title on Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Hermon (9-2) saw its six-game winning streak snapped with the loss. The Warriors avenged an 18-point loss to the Hawks in Week 3.

“Thirteen seems to be our lucky number, so we’ll keep riding with it,” said Nokomis head coach Jake Rogers, whose team beat top-seeded Maine Central Institute 13-0 in the semifinals. “It works. We’ll take it. As long as it’s one point more (than the opponent), I don’t care how many we score.”

While Nokomis’ offense was pedestrian at times against Hermon, its defense was the star of the show.

The Warriors forced five Hawk turnovers, including three Trask interceptions and two fumbles from the senior quarterback.

Trask’s fumble at his own 2-yard line set up Wilson’s score one play later with 7:41 remaining in the opening period, and Brock Graves returned an interception on the next Hermon possession to the Hawk 9.

Four plays later — following a 15-yard penalty for an illegal block on third down — Haining fired a strike over the middle to Chance Graves from 26 yards out for a 13-0 lead.

“The weather didn’t help. We were slipping and sliding everywhere, and their defense played pretty well today,” Chance Graves said. “We scored early, and then we knew we had to stop them when the weather got bad.”

Aside from a 75-yard Trask touchdown run midway through the second quarter, the Warrior defense kept the quarterback under wraps. Trask finished with 179 yards rushing — but he needed 29 carries to do so.

The rest of the Hawks accounted for just 13 yards of offense combined.

“We don’t adjust. We are what we are,” Rogers said. “Trask is a phenomenal player. I thought we could stop him, but I think we kept him in check more than I thought we would. It was good team defense, not changing from what we are.”

Twice in the second half, promising Hermon drives stalled on fourth down.

Chance Graves picked off a fourth-down pass at his own 34 to end a 7:28 Hawk drive which gobbled up almost 50 yards. Another equally long and prosperous Hermon drive on its next possession ended on fourth and long when Trask threw over the head of intended target Matt Bailey with 2:49 remaining.

It was the last time the Hawks would touch the football.

“We have one of the best defenses out there, we play as a team,” Chance Graves said. “We go out and we just scrap. That’s what we did today. We fought until the end. Clearly, it got us to the end, and now we’ve got to go do it again next week.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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