Kimberly (14-0) became just the second program in State finals history to win at least four straight championship by winning the Division 1 title with 29-14 win over Franklin (12-2) in the title game Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
The Sabers grabbed a first quarter lead on a 2-yard run by Tanner Dykstra that capped a 15-play, 86-yard drive to lead 7-0. They went up by two scores in the second quarter. Brad Tobin picked off a Danny Vanden Boom pass and returned it to the Papermakers’ 11-yard line. Ethan Wittenburg gathered in an 11-yard pass from Mitchell Alba to increase the Sabers’ lead to 14-0.
The Franklin defense and three first-half turnovers kept the Papermakers off the scoreboard in the first half. Kimberly’s fortunes changed in the third quarter when Cody Staerkel intercepted an Alba pass to set up the Papermakers in Sabers’ territory on the opening drive of the second half. Kimberly took advantage of the short field to get on the board with a 10-yard scoring pass from Vanden Boom to Boyd Dietzen to draw the Papermakers to within a touchdown at 14-7.
Kimberly tied the game at 14-14 with 2:52 to go in the third quarter when Vanden Boom threaded a pass between three defenders to hit Alec Rosner over the middle, who raced to the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown reception.
The Papermakers grabbed their first lead of the game with 10:37 remaining in the game when DJ Stewart sprinted 43 yards to paydirt. The successful two-point conversion gave Kimberly a 22-14 advantage.
With Franklin on the move in Kimberly territory on their next drive, Alex Warzyn intercepted Alba to extinguish a potential game-tying score. Stewart all but sealed the title with a 24-yard scoring run with 5:19 to play to give the Papermakers their winning margin.
Vanden Boom and Stewart led the Papermakers on offense. Vanden Boom completed 12-of-20 passing attempts for 146 yards and a touchdown, and Stewart rushed for a game-high 108 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Bruss caught five passes for 41 yards and Rosner hauled in three passes for 71 yards and a score. Kyle Mayfield led the Papermakers’ defense in tackles with nine stops.
Alba threw 37 times, completing 18 for 178 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for the Sabers. He also led the team in rushing with 54 yard in six carries. Kyle Lewis was the team leader in receptions with six for 48 yards. Wittenburg caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Kimberly extends its winning streak to 56 games in winning the program’s seven State championship. The Papermakers’ last defeat came at Level 3 of the playoffs in 2012. Franklin finishes runner-up in its third State finals appearance.