KIMBERLY — Blair Mulholland was a wanted man following Kimberly’s 46-29 victory over D.C. Everest on Friday at Papermakers Stadium.
Hand shakes, media interviews, autographs and requests for selfies were generously given out by the Papermakers running back, who ran for 297 yards on 20 carries and six touchdowns in the Papermakers’ victory over the Evergreens in a Valley Football Association-North game on the team’s Senior Night.
“It’s definitely up there,” Mulholland said when asked where his performance ranked in his career. “And being the last guaranteed home game, especially in the regular season and with it being Parent Night and Senior Night, it was definitely memorable playing with all the guys out there.”
The victory clinched at least a share of the VFA-North title for Kimberly (8-0, 7-0 VFA North) and also extended the Papermakers’ win streak to 36 games.
Kimberly can clinch the VFA-North title outright with a victory at winless Wausau East next week.
“It was huge and I was really proud of our seniors on Senior Night tonight,” Kimberly coach Steve Jones said. “We had a chance to wrap at least a share of the conference championship and I was really proud of the way our kids came out and performed at a high level.
“I think we’re getting better every single week and that’s our goal as well, to try and improve. I think we did that tonight.”
Kimberly scored on its first three possessions, with Mulholland capping the drives with touchdowns of 26, 28 and 11 yards.
The Papermakers went ahead 25-0 in the second quarter on Mulholland’s fourth touchdown, this time from 6 yards out. The drive was sparked by a weaving 51-yard scamper by Mulholland that showcased his powerful stiff arm, his patience in letting blocks develop and his vision on cutbacks against the grain.
Kimberly caught D.C. Everest off guard with an onside kick and parlayed the good field position into a 1-yard touchdown run from Mulholland and a 32-0 lead at the 3:06 mark in the second quarter.
Mulholland scored his sixth touchdown on a 65-yard sprint to start the third quarter as the Papermakers rolled up 518 yards of total offense.
Jordan Janssen had Kimberly’s final score, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Danny Vanden Boom early in the fourth quarter. Janssen finished with seven catches for 148 yards and Vanden Boom was 12-of-15 for 208 yards passing.
“I think it all starts all up front with the big guys, the hogs,” Janssen said of his offensive line. “And Blair is obviously a great running back. Once we get the run game going, they start packing the box and like you saw we throw it over the top with the pass, too.
“I think there is definitely a lot of room for improvement just blocking game, everything, catching the ball, we’re definitely nowhere where we need to be but we’re definitely getting better.”
Jones also pointed out the play of the offensive line, which was playing without senior captain Mickey Steger. The Papermakers didn’t miss a beat, however, and Jones pointed out the exemplary play of senior left guard Hunter Kluge, who showed off his athleticism by motoring out ahead of Mulholland on sweeps and outside gap runs.
“He played his tail off,” Jones said. “He’s a great kid and I’m really happy for him on Senior Night and to really step up. But that group as a whole really came together again tonight. I’m proud of them.”
Steven Paoli had 28 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns for D.C. Everest (5-3, 5-2).
K: Blair Mulholland 26 run (kick blocked)
K: Mulholland 28 run (pass failed)
K: Mulholland 11 run (Adam Stage kick)
K: Mulholland 6 run (Stage kick failed)
K: Mulholland 1 run (Stage kick)
DC: Stephen Paoli 5 run (Troy Schwan run)
K: Mulholland 65 run (Stage kick)
DC: Paoli 9 run (two point pass failed)
K: Jordan Janssen 15 pass from Danny Vanden Boom (Stage kick)
DC: Paoli 8 run (Schwan run)
DC: Kevin Sandoval 3 run (Matt Solbakk kick)
Total net yards
Rushing — D.C. Everest: Paoli 28-210. Kimberly: Mulholland 20-297.
Passing — D.C. Everest: Brady Uekert 7-16-1-65. Kimberly: Vanden Boom 12-15-0-208.
Receiving — D.C. Everest: Jacob Ringwelski 3-25. Kimberly: Janssen 7-148; Tyler Verstegen 2-30.
Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @PCRicardo