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Lena-Winslow Football looks to win third straight state title

FREEPORT, IL (WIFR) — After a semi-final game against Forreston at Pretzel Stadium last Saturday, Lena-Winslow found herself back there as the Panthers prepared for their sixth state title since 2010.

“There is nothing better than this,” Le-Win head coach Rick Arand said.

After a 9-0 record, the Panthers dominated the regular season, averaging over 53 points per game and keeping opponents below 11 points per game. The team feels ready after a season in which four NUIC teams took four places in the 1A North quarter-finals in this year’s playoffs.

“It was just great that four (NUIC) teams made it to the (quarter)finals and the last four stood here,” said Arand. The playoffs have been in preparation throughout the season with those we play against.”

Though a 13-0 start was never a guarantee as the team had to reset after winning the state championship in 2021.

“Last year we lost nine guys on offense and seven or eight on defense or something, and the fact that these guys came out and performed the same as this year really says something about them.” Arand said.

“Actually last year we lost a lot of guys who were our leaders, so to see as soon as the seniors go to work and fulfill the roles that they have and how to support the culture, it was really impressive,” said Le -Win Drew Strekwald. .

The team is set for a further reboot as deep playoff runs help develop younger players.

“To be able to practice for 14 weeks instead of nine, they really add up, I mean you get five extra workouts every year which is 20 extra workouts every year which is a crazy amount and you kind of get used to it. . it,” Aiden Packard told Le-Win Safety.

Two players also said the freshmen and juniors’ announcement should help with the psychological side of Friday’s game.

“Going there twice before you soften up a bit, you don’t shake as much in the dressing room, you don’t get as nervous in the warm-ups, so it’s definitely nice to be there two more times,” Strekvald said.

“You know you’re going to a playoff game and nerves, obviously you still have nerves, nerves are great, but you soften a little, you get used to it a little more,” Packard said.

Now all that’s left for the Panthers to do is come out and end the season with confidence.

“Enjoy it, because if you don’t sit back and enjoy it, it will all be over before you know it and when you get on the field, you will have a lot of fun,” Arand said.

“It’s been a dream since we were in seventh grade when we first made the football team, so being here is just crazy,” said Strekvald.

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