Football: Thunder drub Tigers 35-0, wrap solo title and No. 1 seed

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

The Zimmerman Thunder will not have to share their first conference football championship. The Z-Men made sure of that by pummeling the Princeton Tigers 35-0 Wednesday night at Princeton.

Caleb Lunning and Ethan Lunning each ran for two touchdowns, and Caleb scored the other on a pass from Ethan, as the Thunder finished 6-0 in the Granite Ridge.

“We are proud to capture the first Granite Ridge championship,” said coach Tom Kish, “and now look to take a crack at winning our first section championship.”

The victory also clinched the No. 1 seed for Zimmerman (7-1 overall) in Section 6AAA and they will host No. 8 Melrose (3-6) on Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Zimmerman, ranked No. 10 in Class 3A, handed St. Cloud Cathedral its first loss 24-14 the previous week, and needed only to avert an upset by the Tigers to claim the crown alone.

The Thunder held Princeton  (1-7) to 85 net yards, although the Tigers defense gave them a good battle in the first half that ended 14-0.

“Our ground game really started hitting in the second half and we took control of the game,” said Kish.

The Thunder defense dominated, led by linebacker Mitch Robinson and nose tackle Jake Antolak with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively, each   of them sacking the quarterback twice. Caleb Lunning intercepted two passes.

The Lunning twins connected for a 36-yard TD in the first quarter. Ethan made it 14-0 with a one-yard sneak in the second.

The Thunder broke it open quickly at the outset of the third quarter with a quick TD drive capped by Ethan’s 23-yard run, after which Princeton shanked a punt to their own 23, and Caleb dashed 15 yards for the TD that made it 28-0.

Ethan rushed 13 times for 109 yards and hit 3-of-6 passes for 75, all of them to Caleb.

The Thunder have played previously in the Rum River and Mississippi 8 conferences in their nine-year history. Previous best finish was second in the Rum River behind Foley in 2006.


Ziimmerman 35, Princeton 0

Zimmerman  ……. 7   7  21   0 –  35

Princeton ………… 0   0    0    0 –   0

Scoring plays

Zim–Caleb Lunning 36 pass from Ethan Lunning (Alex MacGregor kick)

Zim–E. Lunning 1 run (MacGregor kick)

Zim–E. Lunning 23 run (MacGregor kick)

Zim–C. Lunning 15 run (MacGregor kick)

Zim–C. Lunning 6 run (MacGregor kick)


Team statistics

Total yards — Zimmerman 270 rushing, 75 passing, 345 total; Princeton 85 total

Zimmerman statistics

Rushing–E. Lunning 13-109, C. Lunning 5-41, Jake Wilson 5-38, Brandon Smith 4-30, Josh Hilliard 4-24, Cam Korlath 4-17, Evan Bye 3-5, Jeff Mueller 1-4, Hunter Smith 1-2

Passing–E. Lunning 3-6-75-1

Receiving–C.Lunning 3-75

Tackles–Mitch Robinson 11, Jake Antolak 10, Mueller 7, Tyler Theisen 6, Tony Obinger 5, E.Lunning 4

Sacks–Robinson 2, Antolak 2

Tackles for loss–E. Lunning 1, Theisen 1

Interceptions–C. Lunning 2



Final standings

Zimmerman ……………… 6-0   7-1

St. Cloud Cathedral ……… 5-1   6-2

Foley ……………………….. 4-2   6-2

Mora ……………………….. 2-4   3-5

Milaca …………………….. 2-4   2-6

Little Falls ……………….. 2-4   2-6

Princeton ………………… 0-6   0-8


Results Friday

Zimmerman 35, Princeton 0

Rocori  28, St. Cloud Cathedral 6

Foley 46, Mora 7

Milaca 33, Little Falls 22