Caden Spence 09-10-21

In this Sept. 10, file photo, Thunder junior running back Caden Spence runs for a touchdown during Zimmerman's 49-40 win over archrival Princeton on Friday, Sept. 10, at the Zimmerman High School football field. The Thunder, seeded second, and the Tigers, seeded third, will face each other again in the 2021 Section 6-4A semifinal on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. the Zimmerman High School football field. The winner advances to play No. 1 Mound Westonka (8-0) or No. 4 Orono (3-6) in the Section 6-4A championship game on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. The winner of the championship game advances to the 2021 Class 4A state tournament in November.

In what could possibly be the Thunder’s last game of 2021, Zimmerman will be facing elimination against an East Central-North District adversary in the Section 6-4A semifinal.

No. 2 Zimmerman (6-2) will face No. 6 Princeton (5-4) in the Section 6-4A semifinal on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Zimmerman High School football stadium. The winner will advance to play No. 1 Mound Westonka (8-0) or No. 4 Orono (3-6) on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. at Mound Westonka High School, Princeton High School or Zimmerman High School.

Thunder head coach Tom Kish said Zimmerman is going to have to do a better job at managing big plays on offense.

“If we give up 40 points, we’re not going to walk off the field winners again,” Kish said. “It’s going to be more playoff football. It’s going to be a lower-scoring game. Defensively, we’re going to have to be assignment sharp. We’re going to have to tackle well in the open field and get some takeaways. That’s going to be the key defensively. Offensively, it’s going to get our ground game going and have some successful pass plays complement our rushing attack.”

The Tigers and Thunder have each won one game since the 2019 season. Zimmerman defeated Princeton 24-14 on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at Zimmerman High School while the Tigers defeated the Thunder 16-12 on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, at Princeton High School.

Kish said the stakes are so high on Saturday night.

“Every mistake is magnified and can make the difference in the outcome of the game and loser goes home,” he said. “The kids are handing in their stuff the next day. There’s a lot on the line. Seasons are on the line and for the winner to move onto the section finals is a great opportunity. Obviously, playing a real worthy opponent. It’s going to be a big opportunity and a big challenge for us.”

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