Lena-Winslow headed to Class 1A title game after 28-12 win over Ridgeview

Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 8:10 PM CST
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LENA, Ill. (WIFR) - Northern Illinois University has hosted the IHSA football state championship games only five times. Lena-Winslow will be making its fourth trip to DeKalb after the Panthers pulled away from Ridgeview in the second half to win it 28-12.

Le-Win will get a chance to defend its Class 1A title from 2019 after no state championships were held in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Panthers are the third team from the NUIC to make back-to-back state final appearances.

“Our kids, they just gutted up,” said head coach Ric Arand. “I couldn’t be more proud. We made a lot of mistakes. It was kind of a nervy game. But in the end, they just toughened up.”

Lena-Winslow hasn’t been in many four quarter battles, but the Mustangs gave the Panthers every bit of a game. Le-Win only led 8-6 at halftime. The Panthers scored on their opening possession of the second half. Marey Roby found a lane and took it 20-yards to the house. One of his biggest runs of the game.

The Panthers took a 16-6 lead into the third before making it 22-6 less than two minutes into the final stanza thanks to a Luke Benson 7-yard rushing touchdown.

Ridgeview would strike again to cut the lead back to ten, but with less than a minute to play, Roby found the endzone again.

“This one’s definitely way more special because we don’t have three Division I players on our team,” said Roby. “It’s my senior year. This could’ve been our last time playing, just now hit me. But, dream come true. We made it. This is definitely the best feeling ever.”

Lena-Winslow will face Carrollton for the championship at 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

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