KIMBERLY – Steve Jones is a firm believer that Danny Vanden Boom’s best football is ahead of him.
The Kimberly High School senior recently completed another fine season as the team’s quarterback in leading the Papermakers to a fourth consecutive state title while also extending the team’s winning streak to 56 games, longest in the nation.
Jones’ statement carries even more weight when you consider Vanden Boom’s incredible high school resume that includes a 60-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 4,926 yards passing, along with a passer rating of 139.5 as the team’s starting quarterback the past two seasons.
Vanden Boom’s senior season when he threw for 2,166 yards on 146-of-218 attempts, with 31 touchdowns and five interceptions, has netted him a slew of awards including first-team selections to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press all-state teams, as well as the coveted Gatorade Wisconsin High School Player of the Year.
Vanden Boom’s fantastic campaign is also the reason why he has been named Post-Crescent Media athlete of the year in football.
Jones’ thoughts on Vanden Boom are more than just about stats, but about his character, leadership and demeanor during critical moments in the 2016 season.
“He’s kind of unflappable,” Jones said. “He’s very poised. He doesn’t get too high or too low. And I think that was huge for us this year, with an inexperienced offense coming back coming into the season. Everybody looks to Danny as the quarterback and as the leader. And since he’s so poised all the time, I don’t think as a team, we ever got too high or low.”
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Vanden Boom was at his finest during two important stretches in the postseason. He helped lead a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the Papermakers’ 32-29 victory over Fond du Lac in a WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal, hitting Tyler Verstegen on a 16-yard touchdown pass for the deciding score.
Against Franklin in the Division 1 state title game a few weeks later, Vanden Boom helped rally the Papermakers from a 14-0 halftime deficit with touchdown passes of 10 and 49 yards to Boyd Dietzen and Alec Rosner, respectively, in the third quarter as Kimberly eventually netted its fourth consecutive title in a 29-14 victory.
“He’s an intelligent kid,” Jones said. “I think the big thing you saw this year is the vision that he has and his understanding of coverages and what the defense is trying to do is one thing that stuck out to me. And having intelligent conversations, almost like another coach. He would come in after having watched film on Sunday and tell me what he likes and what he doesn’t like and why. Not just that he wants to throw deep, but being able to discuss the whys behind what he likes and what he doesn’t like.
“I really valued his input. It was almost like another coach as part of our game plan. I always asked him to tell me what he liked on opening script, what he didn’t like and what he liked on third down and those types of things. To be able to have those intelligent conversations I think was really beneficial for us.”
Vanden Boom’s passing prowess helped balance the Papermakers’ fantastic run game that produced a pair of top backs in D.J. Stewart (226 rushes, 1,857 yards, 32 touchdowns) and Zach Miller (152-862-9).
If you think Vanden Boom, who will be a walk-on with the University of Wisconsin football program in the fall, wished he could have compiled some of the gaudy stats that some of the other state quarterbacks put up this season, guess again.
The balanced offense that is one of the pillars of the Kimberly program is all he cares about.
“Honestly, I’ve never really even looked at those stats of those guys,” he said. “I’m sure that there is more passing going on elsewhere, but with Kimberly and the system that we’ve had, it’s just how I’ve grown up. It’s power football team: run the ball first and throw the ball afterward. I think that it’s an advantage for us because a lot of the things we do in the run game open things in the pass game. And to have that balanced offense, I feel like some of the things we do in the pass game sometimes open up the run. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”
Coach Jones joked that he’s “not too excited about him leaving” as Vanden Boom moves on to Big Ten play next fall.
“I want him for another couple of years, to be honest,” Jones said. “But I really do think Danny’s best football is in front of him. If you look at him, he doesn’t have a beard. And I just said to him walking down the hallway, ‘I think you’ve grown an inch since football season.’ I still think he’s going to grow physically and, obviously, mentally and emotionally as well.
“He’s never had an offseason to get in the weight room, being a three-sport athlete. And as a quarterback at the next level, he’s just an intelligent kid that has a good grasp of the game. And getting the opportunity to work with (UW coach Paul Chryst), who I think is one of the best offensive minds in the nation, I think he’s going to continue to grow as a quarterback in the mental side of the game as well. He has a lot of people back here that will be rooting for him.”
Though the Big Ten is in his football future, Vanden Boom knows he has important roles as a starter on both the Papermakers basketball team this winter and the baseball team in the fall. Both teams are highly ranked programs in their respective sports.
“It’s exciting stuff to think about all the potential opportunities in the next couple of years,” Vanden Boom said. “And we talk a lot in the football program about being where your feet are and being in the present, because we know there’s still a lot of work to be done here with the basketball program and the baseball program as well. We have a lot of goals that we want to accomplish and we can’t do that if my mind is elsewhere.
“But, yeah, I’m going to miss high school football a lot. There’s no doubt about that, especially with the experiences that I’ve had here. But it is exciting, when I’m not playing basketball or baseball, to think about what is ahead.”
Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-7191 or email@example.com; on Twitter @PCRicardo
Danny Vanden Boom
Accomplishments: Unanimous first-team all-Valley Football Association North selection and the league’s offensive back of the year and offensive player of the year. … First-team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association all-state. … first-team Associated Press all-state team. … 2,166 yards passing on 146-of-218 and 31 touchdowns. … 129.3 passer rating in leading Kimberly to its fourth consecutive state title. … Gatorade Wisconsin player of the year. … will be a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin.
Favorite football player: Russell Wilson.
Favorite food: Steak.
Favorite movie: “Dumb and Dumber.”
Favorite musical artist: Brad Paisley.