Kimberly's 'Drive for 5' continues as it beats Appleton North
OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- Appleton North was feeling pretty good about itself entering Friday's Division 1 Level 4 playoff game against Kimberly.
The Lightning had been averaging 48 points per game since a Week 7 loss to the Papermakers and never scored below 42 points. North believed it was time to finally end Kimberly's winning streak, but the problem is, the Papermakers didn't feel the same way.
Kimberly let North know from the start it was going to be the same-old same-old as Kimberly put forward an impressive performance, beating the Lightning, 31-14, to win its 69th straight game as it's one game away from winning its fifth straight state championship.
"It's unbelievable how much work these coaches and players put into this," Kimberly coach Steve Jones said. "You see two hours on a Friday night, but you don't see the hours these kids and these coaches put into it all year round."
Kimberly (13-0) entered the game shorthanded on defense as defensive back Nathan Edries broke his ankle during the week in practice but it didn't matter. The Papermakers frustrated North's offense, which scored 31 points in the Week 7 meeting.
"I was pleased with our defense; that's a really good offense," Jones said. "We held them down, especially in the first half.
"I think our defensive staff did a good job of mixing up coverages. I think that confused them a little bit. Kids were flying around and making plays."
North (9-3) trailed 17-0 in the third quarter after D.J. Stewart (42 carries, 241 yards, two TDs) scored his second touchdown of the game after an interception set up Kimberly in North territory. Then, North rallied with two touchdowns to close the gap to 17-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Kimberly then did what Kimberly does when it's back is against the wall, it pushes back. The Papermakers scored on their next two drives to seal the win.
"One more to go," Jones said. "It'll be fun when we get down there. We're not done yet."
"It means a lot," Stewart said of the win. "This is for the past teams that put us in a position to be in this situation.
"Right now we're just taking in the moment, celebrate for 24 hours and come back on Sunday and get to work."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay