PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– No rivalry in the Rockford area has picked up more momentum the past couple years than Lena-Winslow against Du-Pec has. The last two games between them have been something else. Friday night, they’ll meet again in Pecatonica in our ‘Overtime’ game of the week.
Two seasons ago in Lena during the spring COVID season the Panthers won 24-21 when Evan England scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds to play.
Last year in Lena, Du-Pec jumped out to a 20-0 lead with its passing attack only to see the Panthers strike back with 24 unanswered points for the lead, but the Rivermen pulled out the win 30-24 when Trenton Taylor scored on a late one-yard touchdown run from the Wildcat.
In both games, these two teams left everything they had on the field.
“It’s one of those games where, for me and this school, you go out there and you give everything you have and 100 percent effort for both sides,” said Lena-Winslow lineman Henry Engel. “It’s a really fun game from every angle.”
“We play our hearts out,” said Du-Pec lineman Briaun Green. “We love the game obviously. We just play our hearts out pretty much.”
“I feel like we’ve formed a little bit of a rivalry over the past three years,” said Du-Pec running back/safety AJ Mulcahy. “Yea, it’s safe to say we’re going to leave everything out there. Both teams are.”
Lena-Winslow is 6-0. Du-Pec is 5-1. Both teams have managed to stay strong despite graduating remarkable senior classes from last year. The Panthers no longer have Marey Robey, Ethan Fye, Brody Mahon or Luke Benson. The Rivermen lost Hunter Hoffman, Trenton Taylor, Bo Seaton, Trent Hetland, and Jake Anderson among others.
Le-Win head coach Ric Arand knows why the two teams were able to sustain success after losing those great players. “We both have one thing in common. It’s about building a program, not coaching one class. We’re worried about the overall program and not necessarily just this year, or last year, or next year.”
“We feel that we’re kind of at the part of the program where we feel we can reload and rebuild,” said Du-Pec coach Tyler Hoffman. “For them (Le-Win) it’s kind of one of those things where I think for their kids, it’s a legacy thing. They don’t want to let the guys before them down, so they come in ready to go.”
Other than a tight game, one thing that you can almost count on now when these teams line up against each other is a physical game.
“That’s come about in the last couple years” said Arand. “I think they’ve (Du-Pec) really come along physically. Probably in recent years (they’re) our biggest competition in that aspect I think.”
“They come out, and they hit you in the mouth,” said Engel. “When we play it’s always two of the same type of philosophies going at it. Two hard-hitting teams.”
“You’re going to get physical football,” said Hoffman. “We know that.”
“They’re just a good team,” said Green. “We’ve just got to capitalize on every play.”
“This is a big game everybody looks forward to every year,” said Le-Win running back/defensive back Jake Zeal. “Everybody is going to prepare hard, and we know they’re going to give it their all, so we’ve got to bring our all too.”
NOTE: For highlights of the game tune into ‘Overtime” with Scott Leber and Regan Holgate live at 11 p.m. Friday night on Fox 39 right after GN Sports Night.