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Lena-Winslow ready for another opportunity at a state championship

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 10:10 PM CST
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LENA, Ill. (WIFR) - Lena-winslow is no stranger to playing for state titles. The Panthers are back in the Class 1A state championship game for the fifth time since 2010. Now, Le-Win is one win away from doing something no NUIC team has ever done.

For the fourth time in five opportunities, Lena-Winslow will play for a title down in DeKalb. Technically, the Panthers are still defending their title from 2019 since no state champion was crowned last season, meaning they would become the first team from the NUIC to go back-to-back. There is plenty of returning talent from that squad, including quarterback Luke Benson and running back Marey Roby. Assistant coach Kyle Benson says they can’t wait for Friday against Carrollton, a team looking for their first state championship.

“It feels really good. Considering everything everybody’s been through here in the last two years with COVID, waiting to get back to somewhat normal activities, this feels pretty good,” said Kyle Benson. “You’d think even though we’ve done this before, that it’s a little less exciting, it’s not. It’s even more exciting this time, probably. Because when we weren’t doing this, you kind of appreciate it a little more. It’s really exciting to be back.”

When the Panthers are in the final game of the season, they win. Lena-Winslow has never finished as a state runner-up in football.

“It’s definitely fun,” said Luke Benson. “Just the fact that since being a kid, Lena football has been dominant and being able to play for it, it’s amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

“Expectations are always high for us. Our kids feel that. I think they embrace it,” said Kyle. “If you don’t embrace it, it can end your season pretty early. So our kids embrace that. As coaches, we feel it too. But, would much rather it be that way than the other way. We want the expectations to be high.”

Lena-Winslow and Carrollton kick-off the eight-game, two-day event at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb Friday at 10:00 a.m.

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