The Forreston and Lena-Winslow rivalry has gone the Panthers way more times than not, including in the playoffs. Coming into this Class 1A Quarterfinal game Le-Win was 3-0 against Forreston in the playoffs. With Forreston's 13-7 win over Le-Win back in week 7, it was only the 4th time that Forreston came out on the winning side since these teams have met dating back to 2001. This game was not only the second time these two teams have met, but also featured Forreston coming in as the #1 ranked team in the state both times. However, Le-Win has also been ranked in the top 10 for the majority of the year and entered the game ranked #6 in the state. Both teams were looking to prove themselves and earn a spot in the semifinals next week.
It would be Forreston to jump out of the gates first, as their defense recovered a fumble on Le-Win's second play of the game. Just five plays later and Forreston was on the board with an early 7-0 lead. Forreston would score another TD with 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter for a 13-0 lead. However, 19 seconds later Le-Win would respond on a Rahveon Valentine 86 yard TD run to cut the lead to 13-7. Then Forreston would strike again 2 minutes later to make the score 19-7 with 1:36 left in the 1st. Le-Win would have another fumble not too long later as Tanner Lawfer fumbled the ball on a punt-snap, and the ball was kicked out of the end zone for a safety, giving Forreston a 21-7 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
Forreston's next possession in the second quarter led to a field goal by Shaun Wedmaier and Forreston had a 24-7 lead that they would take into half time.
In the second half it was all Forreston as they would score two more touchdowns to extend their lead to 37-7 in the 3rd quarter. Right at the start of the 4th quarter Lane Henneman jumped in front of a Lawfer pass and returned it 19 yards to the house to cap the scoring for Forreston as they cruised to a 44-7 win and a spot in next week's semifinals where they will go on the road to Ottawa to face the Marquette Crusaders at Gould Stadium.
Forreston's defense was stout after giving up the 86 yard TD run to Valentine in the 1st quarter as they held the Panthers to 162 yards of total offense with 167 yards rushing and -5 yards passing. Valentine would finish with 139 yards on 18 carries and 1 TD for Le-Win. Le-Win turned the ball over 4 times as the Cardinal defense was as tough as they have been all season.
Forreston would put up 409 yards of total offense as they rushed for 359 yards on the day. Leading the way was Matt Akins with 93 yards rushing on 17 carries and 1 TD. Anthony Christensen would rush for 88 yards and a score as Forreston put up one of their best games of the season.
Forreston has the number 2 seed in the playoffs as they travel to #1 seed Marquette in a battle of 12-0 teams for a shot at state. Forreston has 1 trip to the title game just 2 seasons ago as they won the school's first championship. Marquette also has 1 trip to state, but it has been 32 years ago when they won the state title in 1984.
Le-Win ends their season at 9-3, but you will find this young group of Panthers chasing another title next year as they should be competing for the top spot of the Northwest division come 2017.