MILWAUKEE (AP) — The head coach of the team with the nation's longest high school winning streak keeps finding new ways to challenge his team.
It's a big reason why Kimberly under coach Steve Jones has won 56 straight games and four straight WIAA titles — and why Jones was named the Wisconsin Associated Press High School Coach of the Year on Thursday.
The AP's Wisconsin player of the year is Brookfield East's Sam Santiago-Lloyd. The senior tailback ran for 197 yards and a state all-division record five touchdowns in the 42-36 victory over Monona Grove to win the Division 2 championship on Nov. 19.
A few hours later, the Papermakers hoisted another Division I trophy after rallying to beat Franklin 29-14.
"It's been an unbelievable experience filled with amazing people ... I believe I have the best coaching staff in the state," Jones said. "You don't do what we've done with just one person."
Especially after Kimberly fell behind by two touchdowns before rallying with 29 unanswered points. The Papermakers (14-0) completed a fourth straight undefeated season, earning their third straight Division 1 crown after winning the Division 2 title in 2013.
"Outstanding young men that are great football players but even better people," Jones said. "It has been a special run."
Jones is back to work thinking about next season, with his team losing nine starters each on offense and defense. Players were in the weight room the Monday after championship weekend, Jones said.
"We talk about never being satisfied, not allowing entitlements to creep into our program," he said.
Brookfield East coach Ben Farley has similar praise for Santiago-Lloyd, who ran for 1,861 yards and 27 touchdowns on 292 carries this year.
He had a highlight-reel performance in his final high school game with a division-record 37 carries.
Imagine what Santiago-Lloyd could have accomplished if he wasn't bothered by a high ankle sprain. The injury forced him to wear a walking boot and miss practice the week leading into the game.
He was good to go following a walkthrough before the championship game.
"I had no doubt in my mind that Sam was going to have the best game of his life," Farley said.
Santiago-Lloyd missed a game because of the injury earlier in the season. He reinjured it in the state semifinals.
"One of his best attributes is he always showed up in big games," Farley said.
A tough, physical running back, Santiago-Lloyd also played linebacker. He had four sacks and four interceptions in his career.
He stood out off the field for less obvious reasons.
"There could not be a more humble, low-key student athlete," Farley said. "A guy who always put his teammates first."