FORRESTON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Lena-Winslow and Forreston have combined to win 9 of the last 13 state championships in class 1A. Our “Overtime” Game of the Week takes us to Forreston where one of the most storied rivalries in small school football will play out once again.
It’s looked like this the last few years where Forreston and Lena-Winslow meet to close out the regular season.
“The rivalry makes it a great game and it seems like the kids usually rise to the occasion,” said Lena-Winslow head coach Ric Arand.
It’s a big game for both teams. It feels that way every time the two meet, whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs.
“It’s like the playoffs for us, honestly, it’s a really big team,” said Forreston running back Owen Mulder. “They’re hard to beat and every year we get really excited for this and work really hard for it.”
Forreston lost to the Panthers twice last year. Le-Win beat the Cardinals in the playoffs of the 1A state semifinals, 38-16. They went on to win the state championship. But if there’s one team that will always give them a challenge, it’s Forreston.
“This week is going to give us a really big challenge because they always bring it and we always bring it, and it’ll be fun,” said Le-Win tight end Quinn Rodebaugh.
Not much has changed between these two teams in the last year. They can throw the ball at times, but they much prefer to stick to their ground game.
“It’s going to be a physical game,” said Arand. “It’s going to be a fast game because neither one of us are probably going to throw it, and great defense will be played.”
Lena-Winslow has outscored its last eight opponents 392-69, averaging 49 points per game.
“They’re big and they want to run it up the middle like they usually do,” said Forreston lineman Ethan Bocker. “C gap a lot, so we just have to stay low, drive through.”
The Cardinals are 7-1 after a disappointing loss to Du-Pec last week, 6-0. They are looking for a bounce-back win and with a run-heavy team like Forreston, it will start on the offensive line.
“It’s about Lena being the measuring stick of our conference and we want to see where we’re at,” said Forreston head coach Keynon Janicke. “I really want to see our offensive line take it to the next level so that we can compete with a team like Lena.”
There’s a lot at stake on Friday. Le-Win is going for an outright NUIC championship, while Forreston is looking at a tie for the conference.
“Really, if we get this week, it means that we did our job these past nine weeks and if we come out on top, it’s awesome,” said Le-Win quarterback Jake Schumacher.
NOTE: For highlights of this game and many more, watch “Overtime” Friday night live at 11 p.m. on FOX 39.