For the 4th time in 10 seasons the Lena-Winslow Panthers have made the state championship game. Looking for their 4th title, they had to face a very tough Central A&M team returning to state for the first time since 2001.
To start the game, Central A&M would pick up a 1st down on their first play with a pass from Connor Heaton to Jacob Paradee. After that, it was a series of 3 straight stops and a forced punt.
Le-Win quickly responded with a run to Isaiah Bruce. A first down run by Marey Roby was negated by a holding penalty, and then Benson hit Kade Chrisman for a 66 yard touchdown pass to put Le-Win on the board first with 9:20 to go in the first quarter and an 8-0 lead after the Benson 2 point run.
Le-Win quickly forced another 3 and out on A&M's second possession, but a running into the kicker penalty brought up a 4th and 4 for the Raiders at their own 39 yard line. They would still punt away.
Le-Win would start their second possession from their own 39 yard line after the Heaton punt.
On their second possession big runs by Sean Ormiston and Marey Roby. A 3 yard gain by Ormiston set the Panthers up at the Raiders 33 yard line. Roby would pick up the first down, and then Ormiston would power through with a 23 yard touchdown run with 6:48 to play in the 1st quarter giving Le-Win a 14-0 lead.
Jacob Paradee would return the kickoff from the 10 yard line for a 90 yard touchdown, but a block in the back put the Raiders at the Le-Win 47 yard line. They would set up with a 4th and 11 from their own 48 yard line, but the Panther pass rush would break through to force an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
The Panthers started their 3rd possession from their own 48 yard line, but after a 10 yard run by Bruce pushed them to the Raider 42 yard line, a late hate moved the Panthers to the Raider 26 yard line. Bruce would pick up 6 yards on the next play to give them the ball at the CAM 21 yard line. A pair of penalties backed the Panthers up to the 22, where they would face a 4th and 11 from the CAM 18 yard line. Benson would throw an incomplete pass to Chrisman to turn the ball over on downs.
CAM would take from their own 18 yard line, and two quick passes from Heaton to Connor Hutchins moved the ball to the 37 yard line. Another pass to Paradee to the 41 yard line. Heaton would pick 19 yards on the ground to move to the Panther 40 yard line. A Brady Patton run moved the ball to the 38 yard line, but Heaton was swarmed into an incomplete pass to Paradee to set up a 3rd and 7. Hutchins would be stopped on the next play to bring up a 4th and 12 from the Panther 42 yard line. Heaton would get flushed out of the pocket and found James Paradee for a 41 yard gain that would move them to the Panther 1 yard line. Heaton would lose 4 yards on 1st and goal, moving the Raiders to the 5 yard line. Heaton would connect with Jacob Paradee for a 5 yard gain and a touchdown. The 2 point try was unsuccessful as Le-Win held the lead 14-6 with 11:07 in the 2nd quarter.
Le-Win quickly moved to the CAM 41 yard line after a big Roby run. Ormiston would punch it in from 35 yards out to set the NUIC rushing record, surpassing Le-Win great Rahveon Valentine. Le-Win led 20-6 with 9:44 to go in the 2nd quarter.
CAM would quickly move the ball to the Panther 44 yard line. A Heaton pass to Paradee moved the ball to the Panther 31 yard line. After an incomplete pass, a stopped run, and another incomplete pass, CAM faced a 4th and 11 from the Panther 33 yard line, but another incomplete pass would turn the ball over on downs.
Le-Win would begin their 5 possession from their own 33 yard line. Le-Win would move to the CAM 45 yard line on just three plays, where they would face another 1st and 10. Chrisman would take a jet sweep off the right side for a 14 yard gain and anther 1st down at the Raider 31 yard line. Le-Win would move the ball to the CAM 18 yard line on an Ormiston first down run. Ormiston would have a bruising run to the 1 yard line, and then Ormiston would burst through from a yard out to increase the Le-Win lead to 26-6 with 1:55 left in the half.
CAM would move the ball as Heaton found Paradee on a bubble route to the left for a 48 yard gain, moving the ball to the Panther 32 yard line. A Paradee run would move the ball to the 29 yard line, and then he caught a Heaton pass to move the ball to the 24 yard line where they would face a 4th and 2. Heaton would take a QB lead up in the middle and moved the ball to the 8 yard line for a Raider 1st and goal. Heaton would run the ball again from the 8 yard line to score. Le-Win would lead 26-12 heading to the half.
Le-Win would receive the kick to start the half, where Roby would return the ball 34 yards to start the drive at the Panther 41 yard line. Benson would throw to Chrisman to move the ball to the Raider 41 yard line. Ormiston would drive the ball down to the Raider 18 yard line to set up a 2nd and two, and on the very next carry he would move the Panthers to the 14 yard line for a 1st down. Roby would tack on 9 more yards to move the ball to the 5 yard line. On 3rd and 1, Ormiston would rush for his 4th touchdown of the game, tying the Class 1A record for rushing touchdowns in the game.
Starting off on their first drive in the 2nd half, CAM would move the ball to their own 38 yard line. A flag on the play would back them up. On the very next play, Heaton would fumble the ball and Cole Gerber was there to fall on it at the Raider 39 yard line. Runs by Ormiston and Roby would move the Panthers to the 26 yard line with 5 minutes left in the half. Ormiston rushed it in from 26 yards out for his 5th touchdown of the game, setting the Class 1A record, and pushing the Le-Win lead to 42-12 with 4:36 to go in the 3rd.
Ormiston intercepted a Heaton pass for a 46 yard touchdown return, and his 6th in the game. Le-Win would increase their lead to 50-12 with 3:53 to go in the 3rd. Ormiston would break the scoring record in the Class 1A title game with his 6 touchdowns. A Heaton pass would completed to Hutchins, but would turn the ball over on downs at their own 31 yard line.
Setterstrom and Bruce would move the ball to the 22 yard line, and Ormiston would pick up the 1st down a the 21 yard line. To open up the 4th quarter, Benson would connect with Chrisman for a 21 yard touchdown pass to get the clock rolling with a 58-12 lead with 11:55 left in the game. The 58 points set a Class 1A scoring record for Lena-Winslow.
The Raiders would connect on Heaton to Paradee connection for 38 yards to move the ball to the Le-Win 26 yard line. Heaton would connect with Paradee for a 20 yard touchdown pass, bringing the score to 58-20 with 7:33 to play.
Le-Win would melt the clock away to bring the final to 58-20 to capture their 2nd title in 4 seasons, along with their 4th title in 10 seasons to set the mark for most state titles by any NUIC school.
Le-Win had 410 yards of offense. Leading the charge was Sean Ormiston, who rushed for 187 yards and 5 touchdowns, setting the all-time NUIC rushing yard and rushing touchdown record with 4,749 and 67 touchdowns for his career. He also set the record for most rushing touchdowns in a Class 1A title game with 5. His 6 total touchdowns also set a Class 1A title game. Luke Benson went 3-5 passing for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kade Chrisman caught those 3 passes for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Isaiah Bruce was held to 34 yards on 7 carries, and Marey Roby rushed 10 times for 70 yards. Ethan Gift had a day on the line, both offensively and defensively, with 5 tackles and numerous big blocks.
Central A&M had 282 yards of offense on the day, with 51 yards rushing and 230 yards passing. Jacob Paradee set a Class 1A championship game record with 157 yards receiving on 11 receptions. His 11 receptions ties the Class 1A title game. He also hauled in 2 touchdown passes. Connor Heaton was 17-33 passing for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. He added 55 yards rushing and another touchdown on the day. Connor Hutchins had 4 rushes for -7 yards and hauled in 4 passes for 22 yards.
With the win, Le-Win sets the NUIC record for most state titles in conference history at 4. Head Coach Ric Arand also sets the NUIC coaching record with his 4th title. Le-Win captures their second perfect season in three seasons, finishing the year at 14-0. On the day, Le-Win became the NUIC leader in most yards in a season with 6,167 yards, which is good for 18th in IHSA history. They also finished with 5,148 yards rushing, which is 3rd all time in the NUIC, and good for 10th all-time in IHSA history.