Title Contenders Ready

ROCKFORD-A long journey that began with off-season weightlifting last January comes to an end Friday for two Stateline football teams. Stillman Valley and Lena-Winslow will play in the State Finals at NIU.

The Cardinals lost their last two regular season games, but they've been rolling through the playoffs with four straight wins including a thrilling comeback last Saturday night at Aurora Christian.

Now it's 11-2 St. Joseph-Ogden that stands between Stillman and it's fifth state title. Ogden has a pair of backs that have rushed for more than one thousand yards.

"I'd say they're a run first team," says Stillman Valley coach Mike Lalor. "But they ghrow it a fair amount as well, so that's really a scarey combination. They just do a great job. Every thing they do they do extremely well."

"They're obviously a very good team. Every body left here is good at State," says Stillman defensive end austin  Blassage. "They're going to bring a big, p hysical team, so we've just got to match them up and get the job done."

That game will kickoff at 4pm Friday.

The first game will be the 1A Championship game at 10 a.m. between Lena-Winslow and 13-0 Downs Tri-Valley. Lena-Winslow will be going after its second State Championship. Like Stillman Valley the Panthers suffered some losses during the regular season, but they've been improving each week throughout the playoffs.

There will be no surprises against Tri-Valley. The Panthers know this will simply be a hard-nosed football game. "Tri-Valley is going to resemble a lot of teams we've played all year long," says Le-Win coach Ric Arand. "I'd say they're a closesdt resemblence to maybe a Forreston. Real quick off the ball, good running backs."

"They look good on film," says Le-Win senior Gus Werhane. "They look very disciplined, and very quick. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game to beat them."

You can see all eight championship games Friday and Saturday on Rockford's MyNetwork TV. (Digital Channel 17.2 over the air, Comcast and Charter Cable Channel 16, DirectTV Channel 18.)

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