The Lena-Winslow Panthers entered the 2018 season as the defending state champions. After a huge quarterfinal win over Aurora Christian, the Panthers fell a game short of their goal after losing to Forreston in the semifinals. Once again the Panthers are looking for another long playoff run entering this season with a team that features two D1 Power 5 commits, and a running back chasing down another Panther in the conference record book.
Coach Ric Arand enters 2019 sitting in 2nd place all-time in wins in the NUIC, with 190. Over the past 10 seasons, he has guided the Panthers to the best 10 year run in conference history, going 105-21 in that span. In 2019, which has become a regular norm for Le-Win, the Panthers are the heavy favorite for the NUIC North title, and will also start the season ranked #2, tied with perennial power Tuscola, and sitting behind conference rival, Forreston. Le-Win is the early favorite for the 1A title in DeKalb, a place that Coach Arand and staff are familiar with. Le-Win is the only NUIC school to win a state title at NIU, doing the honors in 2013 and 2017.
Le-Win is looking for their 26th playoff appearance in school history. In that time, the Panthers have put together a 38-22 record, winning 3 state titles over the past 9 seasons. Since 2009, the Panthers have advanced to the quarterfinals 8 times, to the semifinals 5 times, and made the trip to state 3 times. Coach Arand is setting records year by year as well, as he has guided his team to the playoffs 21 times in his career, the most in conference history. He will be looking for his 22nd trip in his 23rd season leading the Panthers. He has also led the Panthers to 20 consecutive playoff appearances, the first school in conference history to have this long of a playoff run. The Panthers will begin the season at home against rival EPC in the Route 73 Rumble.
Lena-Winslow Playoff History
2010 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2013 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2017 5-0 Class 1A State Champion