Papermakers Perfection: Kimberly wins 5th straight state title
MADISON (WLUK) -- Surreal.
That is the one word Kimberly coach Steve Jones used to describe what his program has done the last five years after completing its fifth straight perfect season Friday night by winning the Division 1 state championship, 27-,7 over Sun Prairie.
The Papermakers won their fifth straight state title, the last four coming in Division 1 after winning the 2013 title in Division 2. Furthermore, the Papermakers have won 70 straight games, continuing to push their state-record winning streak into a territory nobody ever thought possible.
"If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year if we would be standing here, I don't know if I would've believed you," Jones said. "Inexperienced group coming in but continued to grow, evolve, change as a group. It's really a neat experience to see them compete at such a high level on the biggest stage."
Kimberly (14-0) started slow against the undefeated Cardinals, falling behind, 7-0, in the first quarter after a turnover led to a short field for Sun Prairie. But eventually the Papermakers got going.
John Nett scored on a 25-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds left in the second quarter as the teams were tied 7-all at halftime.
The second half was all Kimberly. It entered Friday having outscored opponents, 104-15, in the second half of state title games the previous four seasons and Friday it outscored the Cardinals, 20-0.
"To get those seven points up on the board really jump-started us," running back D.J. Stewart said. "That was a momentum changer in the game."
The running game took over as Stewart rushed for 189 yards and two scores, while Alec Rosner added 108 yards and a TD and Nett 76 yards and a TD.
"The rain came down hard early and can't use that as an excuse," Rosner said. "It kind of halted a little bit of our game plan. We just knew we had to stick to our game plan and do what we do best, running the ball; D.J., John Nett and the guys up front had a great game."
"We're a football team that preaches finishing," Stewart said. "To be able to play the second half like we do is definitely important."
Sun Prairie's lone scoring drive was 19 yards after Rosner lost the ball on a pass attempt in a driving rain. Sun Prairie's lowest scoring game this season was 26 points in a Level 4 win and it scored 31 or more in its first 12 games of the season.
Kimberly picked off two passes and contained an explosive offense to 260 yards. In its last two games of the season, Kimberly held Appleton North and Sun Prairie to a combined 21 points.
"The defense played lights out all season," Rosner said. "They peaked at the right time."
"Unbelievable," Jones said of his defense. "I give credit to our defensive coaching staff and obviously our players, to be able to believe in each other and play with confidence. It was really neat to see them compete tonight."
Rosner was a one-year starter at quarterback after moving from wide receiver. When asked about the season he said, "It's crazy. It feels like a couple days ago we were in two-a-days in August and now we're here."
With stadium almost empty Jones was asked to put into word his program's 5-year run: "Heart and a blur. There's a lot of words that pop into my head. Going back to that word surreal. It doesn't feel real right now and I don't know how long it's going to take to sink in.
"We're just going to continue to enjoy it, enjoy each other and enjoy this win."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay