By Al Zipsie

Ric Arand, Lena-Winslow football coach, was inducted into the Illinois High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 1.

Arand has a record of 174-64 after 21 seasons with the Panthers.

He took over a lean program, and now Lena-Winslow has made the playoffs an area record 18 straight years and counting.

Arand and Lena-Winslow are tied with Forreston and Stockton with two titles each. Aquin, Dakota and Galena lead with three each in football's toughest conference in the state.

Arand won 1A State Championships with the Panthers in 2010 and 2013.

Coach Denny Diduch returns for another season at Forreston. The Cardinals have won the State title two of the last three years and will be favored to repeat this fall.

Stockton, with its rich football tradition and six championship game appearances, are looking for a new head coach. Chris Thornton, who coached from 2006-16, had a record of 82-35 with the Blackhawks.

The Stockton school board unanimously approved Thornton's resignation Feb. 20. T

Thornton led Stockton to a 13-1 record and a state runner-up finish in 2012. Last season, the Blackhawks were undefeated in the regular season before being upset in the first round of the playoffs.

"No truth to the rumor that I am coming back to coach," said Brad Fox, principal in the Stockton school system.

Fox was a former head coach at Stockton leading them to a state runner-up finish in 2004.

"We are in the process of interviewing a couple of well-qualified candidates that will do a great job with the football program," Fox added.

The last time Stockton won a football state championship was 1991 under legendary coach John O'Boyle.

Durand and Pecatonica did not retain either of their head coaches. Now officially the Du-Pec Rivermen, they have hired Tyler Hoffman, a former Pec standout, as head coach.

The schools were a combined 0-18 last season.

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