State Preview: Lena-Winslow vs. Carrollton, Class 1A state title game

Here’s a closer look at the two teams squaring off in the Class 1A title game.

Lena-Winslow (11-2)

Head coach: Ric Arand (219-66, 25 years)

Last State Title Game Appearance: 2019, Won against Moweaqua Central A&M 58-20 (Class 1A)

The Path to State

defeated Aurora Christian 54-7

defeated Forreston 38-8

defeated Fulton 54-28

defeated Ridgeview 38-12

Offensive stalwart

Marey Roby, RB: Roby has been a beast for the Panthers, but is one of a number of capable offensive players for the Panthers. Roby has posted 1,362 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the season and is the Panthers go-to player.

Defense stalwart

• Gage Dunker, DE: Although Lena-Winslow has an experienced lineup as a whole, this sophomore has made his presence felt and has 67 tackles, good for second on the team.

The wildcard

• Luke Benson, QB: The Panthers don’t throw a lot, but tend to come up with big plays when they do. Although Benson has completed just 23 passes on the season, one in four of those completions has ended in a touchdown.

Stat Book

Since 2010, Lena-Winslow’s conference, the NUIC, has won eight of the last 10 Class 1A State Championships. Lena-Winslow has four of them, including the last one contended in 2019. Fellow conference members Forreston (three titles) and Dakota (one) have also hoisted the big trophy.

• Lena-Winslow has rushed for 3,900 yards on the season, averaging a robust 300 rushing yards per game.

• The Panthers have turned the ball over just seven times this season.

The skinny

Lena-Winslow has emerged as the gold standard for Class 1A programs as of late and its little surprise to see them in this position once again. And although very few contributors remain from the last time the Panthers were in DeKalb in 2019, there’s no denying the pedigree of the program and its ability to shine on the biggest stage.

Carrollton (12-1)

Head coach: Nick Flowers (132-58, 18 years)

Last State Title Game Appearance: 2014, lost against Forreston 20-15 (Class 1A)

The Path to State

defeated Shelbyville 47-7

defeated Greenfield 14-6

defeated Athens 28-26

defeated Moweaqua Central A&M 28-14

Offensive stalwart

Grant Pohlman, QB: A absolute dynamo as a pass/run threat, Pohlman has played a part in 46 Carrollton touchdowns this season and accounted for over 3,000 yards of total offense.

Defense stalwart

Harley Angel, LB: There’s a number of impact performers on the defensive side of the ball, but Angel is the anchor of a very fierce Hawks defensive front with 100 tackles and 22 stops for loss.

The wildcard

Kyle Leonard, WR: When Pohlman isn’t doing direct damage, he likes to find Leonard in space where he has racked up over 700 yards of receiving.

Stat Book

Carrollton has punted just 12 times all season. But Hayden Flowers, the son of coach Nick Flowers, is averaging 50 yards per punt when the Hawks find themselves in that situation.

• After losing its season opener to Camp Point Central, the Hawks have ripped off 13 straight wins where it has failed to score less than four touchdowns just once during the streak.

• The Hawks have four different players (Pohlman, Angel, Leonard and Gus Conrood) that have scored at least 13 touchdowns on the season.

The skinny

Carrollton has the capabilities that often trouble a lot of 1A opponents as it can pass and throw with equal success and it often causes matchup problems for teams more accustomed to locking horns with run dominant attacks. If Carrollton can get its opponent off-balance it becomes very difficult to contain.