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Kimberly Wins Fourth Straight Football Title

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.

Brookfield East Wins First Title with Division 2 Crown

Brookfield East (12-2) captured the State championship in its first title game appearance with a 42-36 triumph over Monona Grove (11-3) Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.

At the onset, it appeared the gold trophy was going to be in the possession of the Silver Eagles. They scored on the opening drive, marching 79 yards in nine plays. Jackson Thomsen culminated the drive by scoring on a 13-yard scamper to give Monona Grove a 7-0 lead. Spencer Hampton blocked a punt on the ensuing Spartans’ possession, and Willie Klein recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Silver Eagles a 14-0 lead.

Sam Santiago-Lloyd led the Spartans on a 65-yard drive and scored the first of his State finals record five rushing touchdowns on a 6-yard run with 2:30 remaining in first quarter to cut the Monona Grove lead in half. Santiago-Lloyd scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard plunge on the Spartans next possession to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:45 left in the second quarter. 

Monona Grove regained the lead at 21-14 just 14 second later on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Alec Ogden to Andryi Nahirniak. The Spartans would tie the game at 21-21 late in the first half on a 22-yard connection from Jake Graf to Patrick Cartier. 

Santiago-Lloyd scored his third and fourth touchdowns of the game on a 7-yard run with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter and on a 14-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to give the Spartans a 35-21 advantage.

The Silver Eagles narrowed their deficit to 35-28 with 4:42 remaining in the game on a 5-yard run by Ogden. Santiago-Lloyd scored his fifth rushing touchdown on a 42-yard burst on a four-and-one situation with 2:31 remaining in the game.

Monona Grove completed the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ogden to Frankie Langer with just under a minute to play. The Spartans covered the ensuing onside kick to secure the title.

The Spartans rushed for 378 yards in the game, led by Santiago-Lloyd with 197 yards and five touchdowns on 37 carries. Jake Graf ran 25 times for 170 yards, and he completed 3-of-4 passes for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Ogden connected on 10-of-15 passes for 138 yards a touchdown for Monona Grove. Andryi Nahirniak led all receivers with four catches for 111 yards and a score. Thomsen led the Silver Eagles in rushing, compiling 94 yards on 14 carries.

Monona Grove finishes runner-up for the second time in its five State finals appearances.

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Catholic Memorial Downs Notre Dame for Division 3 Title

In a rematch of last year’s title game, Catholic Memorial (14-0) avenged last year’s loss with a 24-14 win over Notre Dame (12-2) to win the Division 3 championship Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The Crusaders wasted little time putting points on the scoreboard. On the third play of the game, Jaylen Campbell sprinted 70 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to give Catholic Memorial a 7-0 lead. The Tritons responded with an 80-yard drive of its own on their first possession, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Nate Ihlenfeldt to tie the game 7-7. 

After the Crusaders intercepted a pass late in the first quarter, they regained the lead on a perfectly thrown 62-yard strike from Ben Nimz to Max Cooper with two minutes remaining in the first quarter to go ahead 14-7.

The score remained unchanged until late in the third quarter. A tipped Notre Dame pass fell into the arms of the Crusaders’ Eric Fridl, who raced 44 yards down the sideline into the end zone to give Catholic Memorial a 21-7 lead with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter. Fridl converted on a 27-yard field goal to provide the Crusaders with insurance and increase their lead to 24-7. The Tritons added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard toss from Johnny Santaga to Ihlenfeldt to account for the final score.

Campbell rushed for a game-high 167 yards and a touchdown for Catholic Memorial. Nimz completed 6-of-10 passes for 125 yards and a score. Cooper led the Crusaders in receiving with four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Eric Fridl kicked pair of field goals, had an interception return for a touchdown and made six tackles in the game. TJ Goetz led the defense with eight tackles, including two sacks and two deflected passes.

Santaga connected on 15-of-27 passes for 148 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for the Tritons. Ihlenfeldt paced the Notre Dame ground game with 84 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, and he snatched a game-high five passes for 35 yards and a score. Ryan O’Connell and Danny Stewart led the Tritons’ defense with nine tackles apiece. 

Last year’s runner-up Catholic Memorial wins its second State championship in its fifth finals appearance, also winning the Division 3 title in 2012. The 2015 champion Notre Dame finishes runner-up in its fourth experience in the championship game.

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St. Croix Central Rushes to Division 4 Championship

St. Croix Central (11-3) was crowned champion in Division 4 following a 49-28 win over River Valley in the final at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.

The 77 points scored by the two teams combined set a Division 4 State final record.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff and drove 78 yards in 15 plays, scoring on an 8-yard run by Cole Refsnider to go up 7-0. In the second quarter, the Panthers took control of the game on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Ryan Larson to lead 21-0 at the half.

The Blackhawks received the second half kickoff and drove 69 yards to cut their deficit to 21-6 on a 22-yard scoring pass from Elijah Alt to Derek Wedige. However, the Panthers answered with Larson’s third rushing touchdown of the game, a 3-yard effort with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter. River Valley scored before the end of the quarter on a 2-yard run by Alt. With the successful two-point conversion, the Blackhawks trailed 28-14.

Cole Refsnider raced 64 yards to the River Valley 1-yard line to set up Larson’s fourth short rushing touchdown of the game and expand the Panthers’ lead to 35-14. The four scoring runs tied a Division 4 State finals record. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff recovered by St. Croix Central set up an 11-yard jaunt by Refsnider to give St. Croix Central a 42-14 lead.

In the shadows of its own end zone, River Valley responded on its next drive with the longest pass play in Division 4 history as Alt connected with Wedige again for a 94-yard touchdown pass play to make the score 42-21.

The Panthers added another score on a 9-yard Collin Nelson run with just over four minutes remaining in the game, and the Blackhawks capped the scoring with a 13-yard pass from Alt to Ryan Wickman.

Larson shouldered much of the workload for the Panthers, rushing 41 times for a game-high 158 yards, and Refsnider rushed for 153 yards in 15 carries. St. Croix Central rushed for 371 yards as a team and attempted just one pass, which was incomplete. The Panthers scored touchdowns on seven of their nine possessions in the game and held a 34:38 to 13:00 advantage in ball possession.

Elijah Alt spearheaded the Blackhawk offensive attack, completing 13-of-38 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 57 yards and a touchdown. Wickman had a game-high 13 tackles for the Blackhawks.

St. Croix Central wins its second State championship in its second championship game appearance. They won the Division 5 title in 1988. River Valley finishes runner-up in its first-ever appearance in the final.

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Amherst Defends Division 5 Title

Defending champion Amherst (13-1) won its second straight Division 5 championship with an entertaining 38-35 victory over Cedar Grove-Belgium (12-2) Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Carter Zblewski kicked a 26-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the game to break a 35-35 tie and provide the margin of victory, despite a record-setting performance by the Rockets’ Josh Weiss.

He threw for an all-division finals record 383 yards and five touchdowns in the losing effort. His 51 attempts and 36 completions also were tournament records. Reid Hilbelink also set an all-division record with 14 receptions for 164 yards and two scores. Ethan Bochtrup had 13 catches for 155 yards.

The Rockets opened the game with a 7-play, 64-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead, culminating with a 13-yard pass from Weiss to Hilbelink. The Falcons answered by marching 57 yards in seven plays to knot the score at 7-7. Chandler Benn ran in from one yard for the score. Cedar Grove-Belgium responded with another scoring drive of 71 yards, capped by another Weiss-to-Hilbelink connection from seven yards out. Again the Falcons tied the game at 14-14 with a 3-yard Benn run.

The Falcons scored twice in the final two minutes of the second quarter to build a 28-14 halftime lead. Devin Ostrowski scored on a 4-yard scamper, and Brandon Piotrowski hit Josh Cisewski with a 30-yard touchdown strike after a Marcus Glodowski interception of a Jason von Heimburg option pass set the Falcons up in Rocket territory.

The Rockets rallied in the third quarter with a pair of Weiss scoring tosses to tie the game at 28-28. Matt Dirkse hauled in an 8-yard pass, and von Heimburg added an 11-yard scoring reception. Cedar Grove-Belgium took the lead at 35-28 in the fourth quarter with another von Heimburg touchdown catch that covered 10 yards. 

Piotrowski tied the game with 5:12 left in the game on a 2-yard plunge, and a Rockets’ turnover on the ensuing drive set up the Zblewski heroics.

Ostrowski led the Amherst ground game with 71 yards and a touchdown, and Benn ran for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Josh Shude made three catches for 43 yards. The Falcons’ defense held the Rockets to 39 yards on 16 attempts. 

Amherst has appeared in the title game in four of the last five seasons with three titles, and Cedar Grove-Belgium finishes runner-up for the second time in their two appearances in the finals.

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