By Al Zipsie

We know the NUIC is known as the best small-school football Conference in the State.

It's proving again Lena-Winslow won it's semifinal and will be playing for another 1A State Championship Friday. And with the teams from the NUIC who left for other football options, it's possible there could be three state champions.
And that has happened with Polo winning the Illinois 8 man football state championship and Warren joined a Coop with Blackhawk and won the Wisconsin Division 7 state championship.
Lena Winslow had it's closest challenge of the season but came out on top 44-30 over previously unbeaten Annawan-Wethersfield. The Panthers led 30-6 at halftime. However, AW with a solid quarterback in Colton Quaggliano 30 of 44 for 317 yards passing and four touchdown passes cut the lead to as close as 12 points twice before falling by 14. Isaiah Bruce led Lena-Winslow 227 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Sean Ormiston added 95 yards rushing and a pair of TD's.
The Stateline will be in all four State championship games on Friday at Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. First Lena-Winslow in 1A plays Mowequa Central AM. Both are 13-0. Central AM beat Athens in the South semifinal 35-21.
Following the Lena-Winslow game will be Sterling Newman for the 2A State title at 1 p.m. Newman beat Mononk Fieldcrest 21-7 in the semi-final and will play Nashville. After that Byron plays in the 3A championship game meeting Williamsville. Byron snuck by Princeton 7-3 in the semifinal.
In 4A Richmond Burton will play Murphysboro for the title
In 5A Rockford Boylan suffered their only loss of the season to Chicago St. Rita 42-21 in a 5A semifinal.
Players from the NUIC named to the IHSFCA all-state 1A football team were Lena-Winslow seniors  Sean Ormiston running back and Isaiah Bruce running back/defensive end. Senior Eric DeVries of Forreston defensive line. Will Gustafson an Aquin junior at quarterback/defensive back. Carter Kleckler Orangeville senior at defensive back. Cody Schultz a Stockton senior on the offensive and defensive lines. 8n 2A Elijah Dertz of Eastland a senior as offense and defensive lineman. Honorable Mention 1A was Aquin senior Brady Carlisle offensive lineman. Gennings Dunker a Lena-Winslow junior as offense and defensive lineman. In 2A Zack King of West Carroll was Honorable Mention all-state at linebacker.
The first year of 8 man football turned out to be a good move. Polo went 13-0 and won the Illinois 8 man football state championship Friday night at Monmouth College knocking off last year's champ Milford Cissna Park 50-26. Coach Jeff Bumsted went out in style winning a state championship in his final game as coach for the Marcos. Jace Coffey was named the player of the game as he had 245 yards and three touchdowns. Alex Davis added 120 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns and quarterback Tucker Mumford ran for a pair of touchdowns.
Blackhawk/Warren Wisconsin Division 7 State championship shutting out Edgar 6-0 Thursday morning at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. Senior Ethan Williams of Warren threw a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:38 left in the first half to Hayden Milz. It held to be the only and winning score.
Blackhawk/Warren also beat Edgar for last year's state title and was the state runner up the year before. This year Blackhawk joined Illinois school Warren for a Coop and it was a historic first season going unbeaten at 14-0 and state champions. The game had replays on calls, which went in Blackhawk/Warren's favor. Maybe Illinois should consider using that system.
It was the first part of a State championship ever for the first time in Warren's school history. Players from Warren that were named from BlackHawk/Warren to the Six Rivers All-Conference football team were Williams at defensive back and Skylar Neff a junior first-team offensive and defensive lineman. Warren had only one playoff win in it's school history just back in 2015. They had folded the program for a short time and tried a Coop with River Ridge. Warren was 1-8 last year in the NUIC. Playing that tough Conference schedule wasn't easy for the small school Warren. They deserve to win a state title and have the state championship marker put up in the town and at the high school.
For both Warren and Polo it was their first state championship in school history. For a look at all-time NUIC sports hardware and championships go to Facebook NUIC Sports. And despite Warren's being in Wisconsin for a Coop and Polo in 8 man football not yet a Sanctioned IHSA Sport. We feel that the state championships should be counted. A Coop between Wisconsin and Illinois are not eligible to play for an Illinois state championship but can in Wisconsin.
The Stateline Sports Hub 2018 NUIC multi-sports athlete of the year Rahveon Valentine will no longer play football at Northern Illinois because of concussions. Valentine at Lena-Winslow was all-state in football, second in the state in wrestling and a state medalist in track.