KIMBERLY, Wis. (WBAY) After 4 straight perfect seasons and WIAA state titles, the Kimberly Papermakers are back to the basics.
There’s plenty of work to be done before putting their 56-game win streak on the line 2 weeks from Friday.
“We battle a sense of entitlement all the time,:” said coach Steve Jones. “I tell the kids, there are 3 things you should be scared of in life: alligators, cancer, and entitlement. Once they get ahold of you they never let go. So we have to fight that every day.”
“No matter how successful we are, we always try to stay away from getting big headed and thinking we're on top just because we have the longest win streak in the nation,” said senior running back D.J. Stewart. “That means nothing. To be honest, we're a completely new team this year. There's always something to fix.”
Alec Rosner, who is also the point guard on the Papermakers' basketball team, is currently ahead in the race to start at quarterback. He knows the tradition in which he follows.
“Danny (Vanden Boom), Austin Weyenberg, and Scott Schreiber were all great athletes and great quarterbacks,” Rosner said. “Scott obviously started the streak, Danny has it still going. As (coach) Jones says, you can't replace a person, you just have to replace his production.”
With only 5 returning starters, Kimberly would love to ease into its schedule.
No such luck.
The Papermakers open against a hungry Fond Du Lac squad. The Cardinals challenged Kimberly in last year's playoffs, with the Papermakers needing a 4th-quarter comeback to escape with a 3-point win.
“It's good,” Jones said. “We have to play the cards we're dealt, so it doesn't matter what we want. We're playing them. It will be an unbelievable test early on. We'll see what we have. Our kids are going to have to be ready because I know Fond Du Lac is going to be ready and they're a really tough, physical football team.”
“They played us great in the playoffs,” Rosner remembers. “They've been training all summer trying to get us. We're training too. I know our coaches are going to the best job they can to put us in a spot to win. We just have to go out there and compete and see what happens.”