Winslow running back Pedro Garcia (4) rushes for a touchdown as Old Town defenders Zachary Haverlock (59) and Isaac Tinkle (24) try to make the stop during a football game last Saturday in Winslow . Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It’s a matchup between new blood and the old guard — and Ryan Snell knows exactly how to put that into context.

Only one football program in the state of Maine (St. John Valley) is newer to high school football than Snell’s Medomak Valley Panthers, who played their first season of varsity ball in 2015. In contrast, Winslow, Medomak’s Week 2 opponent, is playing its 100th season on the gridiron this year and boasts 11 state titles to its name.

“We’re in Year 8 as a varsity program, or I guess Year 7 if you take away the COVID year,” said Snell, Medomak Valley’s head coach since the program’s inaugural season. “They have more state championships than we have years of varsity football. It’s kind of crazy when you look at it.”

In the here and now, though, Medomak and Winslow are in similar spots as programs. The Panthers and Black Raiders are among the teams that can make a case to be Class C North’s best, a claim one of these two teams will go a long way toward making Saturday afternoon.

Both teams won their respective opening games in blowout fashion. The Panthers aired the ball out in a 42-6 road victory over Belfast, and the Black Raiders excelled on the ground to open their regional title defense with a 58-14 win over Old Town.

Winslow, though, will be without standout Matt Quirion, who ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the win, for the remainder of the 2022 season. With the junior running back sidelined with a wrist injury suffered in the second half against Old Town, No. 2 back Pedro Garcia will shoulder even more of the load.


“Matt is my best friend, and he was like the second piece of my running,” said Garcia, who added 120 yards and four scores on 11 carries for Winslow on Saturday. “He’d always hype me up after everything, so I don’t know how it’s going to be, but we’re going to work through it; we’ve got kids pushing and ready to do the job.”

If there was one flaw in what was otherwise an impressive Week 1 performance for Winslow, it was the team’s pass defense, particularly early in the game. Old Town’s Jared Craft threw for nearly 200 yards against the Black Raiders as the Coyotes gashed the secondary for a few big plays in the opening half.

Medomak will hope to employ the pass game to similar effectiveness against Winslow. The Panthers excelled through the air against Belfast last week, with Wyatt Simmons throwing for 140 yards. Six different receivers finished with receptions.

“We know they like to throw the ball a lot, and we’re going to have to stop them,” said Winslow head coach Wes Littlefield. “They’re very athletic, and they have a real good quarterback who throws the ball really nice and some other playmakers. Their kids are tough.”

When Medomak calls on the run game, Hayden Staples, a regular 100-yard rusher last year, is more than capable. The Panthers are also strong in the trenches, where they have two of Class C North’s top linemen in Marshall Addy and Connor Light. 

Old Town quarterback Jordan Craft (8) gets swallowed up by the Winslow defense during a football game last Saturday in Winslow . Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Winslow, which annually plays physical football, is strong up front as well. The Black Raiders’ offensive line was key in a Week 1 victory, and although the loss of Quirion hurts, Snell isn’t expecting to see any sort of drop-off from his opponent.


“They’ve got a group of tough, hard-nosed football players, which is what Winslow always has,” Snell said. “That’s a team that’s playing with a lot of pride and a lot of heart, especially after the loss they had last year with Coach (Pete) Bolduc. That’s a true football community whose teams are always tough, and we expect the same on Saturday.”

Although the postseason is far from both teams’ minds, the matchup is one that could go a long way in determining playoff seedings and statuses. Both teams were players in the Class C North race a year ago with Medomak entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and Winslow claiming the regional title.

Winslow won both of the previous matchups, the most recent a 76-6 thrashing of the Panthers in 2019. Yet Littlefield knows full well that the scoreboard won’t look anything like that Saturday — not with how far Medomak has come.

“This is like a playoff game, and that’s how we’re treating it,” Littlefield said. “It’ll be worth a lot of points because they’re going to win a lot of games. We know we have our hands full this week.”

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