KIMBERLY - It had to end at some point. Winning streaks always do.
Time finally ran out for the West De Pere football team in a 16-14 loss to Waupaca in a WIAA Division 3 semifinal playoff game at Papermaker Stadium on Friday night.
The loss - that doesn't sound quite right when talking about the Phantoms - ended a 39-game winning streak that started in 2010 and included the program's first two state championships.
You'll excuse West De Pere if it wasn't in the mood to reflect on that metro-record winning streak. There will be time for that, but right now, everything about this loss hurts.
After all, a team doesn't win 39 games in a row by accepting defeat well. Or at all.
West De Pere coach Bill Turnquist has seen a lot in 38 seasons as the Phantoms coach. He always is as humble and gracious in defeat as he is in victory. This time was no exception, even if perhaps he forgot what this losing thing feels like.
It was obvious how much he was torn up by the loss, a defeat he said will stay with him for some time. Those two championships he worked so hard for won't take the sting away just yet.
"It is going to take some time," Turnquist said. "We had expectations. Expectations right now are pretty darn high, and it's tough when you lose such great ballplayers.
"Losing is difficult. We didn't expect this. We expected to keep on rolling. ... it's not a good feeling. It's uncomfortable. It's tough."
At some point in the coming days, weeks or months, the Phantoms will have an opportunity to sit back and reflect on a magical run that the metro area never has witnessed.
Green Bay East held the old winning streak record of 36 games, which West De Pere broke when it beat Antigo in a first-round playoff game last month before adding a few more to the total with its run to the semifinals.
The Red Devils held that record for 73 long years. The Phantoms might just hold it forever.
Turnquist and a talented group of assistant coaches and players have helped to completely turn a program around that wasn't always so decorated.
There were some lean seasons during Turnquist's tenure, but he has more than made up for it during the twilight years of his career.
His teams have won at least seven games each year since 2004. The Phantoms have won at least 10 games in seven of those nine seasons, which has accounted for 33.3 percent of Turnquist's wins at West De Pere.
So, can he enjoy the fruits of his labor? Just a little bit?
"It's hard to look back at that," Turnquist said. "You look at the scoreboard and you see that defeat tonight. The kids prepared and worked hard all the way through. You couldn't ask any more of our seniors.
"You remember those close ones. Just a couple plays makes a difference in the ballgame. It is going to haunt me for a while. Especially when your kids have invested so much into the program."
The winning streak was stopped, but that investment in the program will continue. A few minutes after the loss, sophomore running back Dom Conway stood up and had a message for the players returning next season.
"The work starts tomorrow," he said.
Let the new streak begin.