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WIAA state football: Kimberly's Drew Lechnir

Kimberly's Drew Lechnir (49) intercepts a Sun Prairie pass in the fourth quarter of the WIAA Division 1 Championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

DIVISION 1 FINAL

Kimberly (12-1) vs. Muskego (13-0), 4 p.m. Friday

How they got here: The Papermakers, who have won five consecutive state titles (the last four in Division 1), had their national-leading, 70-game winning streak snapped in this year’s season opener by Fond du Lac, 31-28. But the Papermakers avenged that loss with a 22-21 overtime victory in a semifinal last week. Muskego edged Milwaukee Marquette, 24-21, to earn its second finals trip (the first ended in a loss in 1994).

About the Papermakers: Coach Steve Jones’ Kimberly program had to replace 18 of 22 full-time starters, including last year’s state offensive and defensive players of the year. The Papermakers have gotten a big year from 6-1, 180-pound senior all-state quarterback Cody Staerkel, who has completed 65.8 percent of his passes for a state-leading 2,748 yards and 28 touchdowns with three interceptions. “From how much he’s grown and improved, and how his confidence improved, it’s unbelievable,” Jones said. Junior Will Fischer (5-11, 185) has rushed for 1,064 yards and eight scores, and junior receiver Connor Wnek (6-3, 170) has caught 52 passes for 923 yards and 13 scores. The defense is led by 5-11, 205-pound senior all-state middle linebacker Tristan Argall (86 tackles, three sacks), and features senior safety Zach Olson (5-9, 160, 59 tackles). Senior cornerbacks Drew Lechnir (5-10, 155, 43 tackles) and Trey Tennessen (6-0, 160, 41 tackles, six interceptions) also return kicks. “We have strengths on every single level,” Jones said.

About the Warriors: Coach Ken Krause’s Muskego squad won the tough Classic 8 Conference, with only two games decided by a touchdown or less, and beat seven teams that won at least one playoff game this season. The Warriors averaged 40.5 points per game behind a wing-T running attack that has amassed 4,446 yards and 57 touchdowns. John Reiske (5-10, 200) has totaled 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns, and sophomore Alex Current (5-11, 175) has produced 1,415 yards and 21 scores. Quarterback A.J. Makinen (6-0, 175), a third-year starter, has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 641 yards and 12 scores with one interception. The defense has given up averages of 246 yards and 13.3 points per game, led by Hunter Wohler (140 tackles), Bryan Gruehn Jr. (108 tackles, 11 for loss), Mitch Borkovec (106 tackles) and Nathan Stewart (106 tackles, 23 for loss). Lucas Amaya, kicker, has made seven of 11 field goals.

— Art Kabelowsky

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.