In what some may consider one of the most exciting games in the history of the State football finals, Kimberly (14-0) won the rematch of two perennial football powers that met in the Division 1 championship game last season, defeating Arrowhead (12-2) 49-42 Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Kimberly showcased the explosiveness of running back Blair Mulholland, who rushed for a Division 1 record 341 yards and four touchdowns. He scored the game’s first touchdown on a 40-yard dash up the middle. The Warhawks responded on the ensuing drive with a 67-yard drive ending on a Nick Bastien 1-yard run, but the extra point drifted wide of the uprights. Mulholland added his second of four scores, dashing 74 yards to put the Papermakers ahead 14-6.
Johnny Duranso, who threw for a Division 1 record 275 yards, brought the Warhawks down the field and tossed a 25-yard scoring strike to Justin Peret, who set a State finals record with 173 receiving yards. Arrowhead special teams came up big with a blocked punt returned deep into Kimberly territory resulting in a 1-yard Duranso scoring run to give Arrowhead its first lead at 20-14 midway through the second quarter.
The Papermakers regained the lead at 21-20 on an 11-play, 86-yard drive culminated with an 11-yard pass from Danny Vanden Boom to Jordan Janssen for the first of his Division 1 record three receiving touchdowns with 48 seconds remaining in the half.
That proved to be too much time to give the Warhawks as they drove 73 yards on three plays in just 23 seconds to take a 27-21 halftime lead when Duranso spotted Jake Hower all alone on right sideline for a touchdown.
Arrowhead opened the second half in full throttle, scoring a touchdown on its second play from scrimmage on a 58-yard pass from Duranso to Peret. The two-point conversion gave the Warhawks a 35-21 advantage. They added another touchdown on a 5-yard run by Duranso to balloon the Warhawks lead to 42-21 with 5:42 to play in the third period.
Kimberly reduced the deficit to 42-28 on a 17-yard Mulholland touchdown scamper to cap a 96-yard drive. Janssen caught his second scoring toss of the game from seven yards out with 5:40 left in the game to reduce the deficit to 42-35. The Papermaker got back to even at 42-42 on the ensuing drive after they recovered an onside kickoff. Vanden Boom connected with Janssen for another 7-yard touchdown pass.
The winning score was a 1-yard dive by Mulholland with 11 seconds remaining to complete the 21-point comeback in the second half with 28 unanswered points.
Kimberly wins its third straight championship, and its second straight in Division 1. It’s the Papermakers fifth title overall. Arrowhead finishes runner-up for the second straight season in its 13th State finals appearance.
Homestead won its fifth State championship with a 28-12 victory over Waukesha West in the Division 2 title tilt.
The Highlanders took control of the game early, jumping out to a 21-0 halftime lead. Their first score came on a 33-yard pass from Eric Zoeller to Patrick Minkin at the 5:18 mark of the first quarter. Less than two minutes later, Matt Winters found pay dirt on a three-yard run. The third touchdown of the first half came early in the second quarter on a 34-yard run by Zoeller.
The Wolverines attempted to claw back into the game early in the second half, completing an 11-play, 72-yard drive with a 20-yard run down the sideline by Peter MacCudden, but the point-after was missed to make the score 21-6.
Any thoughts of a Wolverine comeback were erased when the Highlanders responded by mounting a time-consuming drive of epic proportions. They drove the ball 79 yards on 23 plays that amassed 12:57 capped by a 1-yard scoring plunge by Matt Winters with 3:22 left in the game. The Wolverines scored on a 5-yard run by Connor Blunt with just over a minute to play to complete the scoring.
The Wolverines out-gained the Highlanders 263-253 in total yardage, but two Waukesha West turnovers led to 14 Highlander points. Matt Winters rushed for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Eric Zoeller added 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 72 yards through the air, completing 4-of-6 passes. Serafino LaGalbo and Bradley Woldt were the leaders on the defense with eight tackles apiece.
Blunt completed 15-of-21 passes for 164 yards, and MacCudden rushed for 61 yards to pace the Wolverines’ offense. Sam Hietpas led the defense with game-high 12 tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.
The fifth Homestead State title comes in its sixth finals appearance. Waukesha West finishes State runner-up for the second time in four State appearances.
Notre Dame (12-2) won its second State title following a 19-17 win over Catholic Memorial (11-3) in the Division 3 final.
The Tritons fought back from a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter. The Crusaders scored on their opening drive, going 77 yards on seven plays to lead 7-0. Jaylen Campbell squirted through a hole up the middle to sprint 26 yards for the score.
The two teams traded field goals before the Tritons converted an interception return deep into Catholic Memorial territory by Jonathan Santaga. Robert Petitjean tossed a 12-yard scoring strike to Ryan O’Connell to tie the game at 10-10 with just over two minutes to play in the first half.
Another field goal by Vinny Pallini gave the Tritons a 13-10 lead on their first drive of the second half. Alex Bray put the Crusaders back in the lead at 17-13 with 5:41 left in the third quarter with a 29-yard pass to Max Cooper. Jack Drake intercepted a Bray pass in the end zone to turn back a Catholic Memorial scoring opportunity with just over four minutes in the game. After Petitjean connected with Vinny Pallini for 45 yards, he hit Santaga on 32-yard scoring play to the front corner of the end zone for the winning score with 3:07 remaining in the game.
Catholic Memorial out-gained the Tritons 418-273 in total offense in the game. Alex Bray completed 13-of-27 passes for 183 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. Campbell led rushed for a game-high 97 yards.
Petitjean led the Notre Dame offense, completing 10-of-19 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Santaga caught three passes for 77 yards, and Liam Gerl led the team in rushing with 57 yards. Ryan O’Connell tallied a game-high 14 tackles and intercepted a pass to lead the Tritons’ defense and Mike Oechsner led the Crusaders’ defense with eight stops.
Notre Dame’s other title came in 2003, and Catholic Memorial finishes runner-up in its fourth State finals appearance.