Lena-Winslow enters the 2023 season looking to defend a state title for the third consecutive year, which means a successful title defense would make the Panthers the first ever Class 1A team to capture 4 consecutive state titles. The Panthers will have to replace a lot of starters for Coach Ric Arand, as they lost 8 starters on offense and 10 on defense.
Coach Arand kicks off his 27th season with a career record of 234-66, and is looking to guide the Panthers to their 24th consecutive playoff appearance, and 26th overall under Arand's tenure.
Gage Dunker will be the lone returning running back on offense, where he was a unanimous all-conference selection last season. In his career, he has rushed for 1,760 yards and 32 TD's entering his senior year. On the defensive side, he also returns as a unanimous all-conference selection. He has been a key part on defense the last 2 state title runs, and has accumulated 157 tackles, putting a lot of pressure on opposing offenses.
The line will be anchored by returning tackle Tanner Kempel and center Odin Stabenow, who may be moving to the other tackle position this season. They join Dunker as the only returning starters for Lena-Winslow this year.
Coach Arand said he needs a lot of newcomers to step up and mature quickly in order for the Panthers to see success. Some of that depth will come on the offensive and defensive lines, where Arand expects the play of Luke Kempel, Luke Stabenow, Brady Aurand, Landon Grindey, and Alex Packard to help fill the holes that were left vacant after last season.
In recent years, the Panthers have had significant play come from the tight end position, where Arand is expecting Mason Spidahl, Quinn Rodebaugh, and Casey Klever to pick up reps there.
To help fill in that wing T offense at the running back position, Arand has a stable to choose from, including Nick Tippett, Lucas Fye, Cobryn Lynch, Jimmy Goebel, Eli Kleckler, and Blake Duncan.
Vying for the QB spot will be Jake Schumacher and Jaylen Rakowska. Whoever wins this battle will be handed the keys to the best dynasty in Class 1A history to help steer the Panthers to another offensive explosion.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers will utilize a lot of the same guys listed above, with a linebacker corp that will include Dunker, Grindey, Kleckler, Klever, and Goebel.
The key staple to Le-Win's defense has been their defensive line, and that will be led by the play of Tanner Kempel, Luke Kempel, Luke Stabenow, Aurand, Spidahl, Packard, and Rodebaugh.
Every year we see someone rise to the forefront that is least expected, and this year a couple names you may want to become familiar with are sophomore Alec Schlichting and freshman Gannon Dunker. Coach Arand may not use them out of the gates, or at all, but we have heard plenty about these guys to give us reason to mention them.
Coach Arand expects to have good depth on the offensive and defensive lines, but his main concern for improvement is the lack of experience the Panthers return. As has become the norm for Arand, his goal is to have the Panthers playing their best football by the end of the year to give them a chance at a postseason run.
Expect Le-Win to open up the AP polls ranked #1 in Class 1A to kickoff the season.
Playoff History 53-22
2010 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2013 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2017 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2019 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2021 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2022 5-0 Class 1A State Champion