by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman Thunder knew they were going to have a battle on their hands when they traveled to Foley on Friday, Sept. 8. Foley’s football program has been down the last few seasons, but this year’s group of seniors were looking to turn things around.
They actually defeated Zimmerman’s current senior class when the two sides squared off as freshman, and were looking to do the same thing three years later.
“Foley is a good team, and they came ready to play,” Thunder head coach Tom Kish said after the game. “They were being physical and challenging our guys. It was a battle.”
The Thunder held onto a slim 13-6 lead at halftime, as the two sides appeared to be evenly match, and that carried over for much of the second half as well. The Thunder started to gain a little momentum in the third, picking up a few first downs here and there, but they couldn’t string anything together – looking for a spark to really ignite their team.
As luck would have it, they would get that spark towards the end of the third quarter. In this rematch of senior classes, it was a junior providing the play that would turn this dog fight into a lopsided win.
The Thunder were able to force Foley to punt the ball away from deep in their own zone, and Tre Wilkins got past all the opposing blockers to get a hand on the punt. Foley’s kick ended up recovering the loose ball, but it still gave the Thunder possession inside the opposition’s 10-yard line.
They were then able to punch it in, giving themselves a 20-6 lead and a little bit of breathing room.
“I think it was definitely a real turning point in the game,” Kish said of that blocked punt. “Even though we hadn’t scored yet we were kind of controlling things in the third quarter, had been getting some first downs but we weren’t able to finish our two drives in the third quarter before then. When we were able to block that punt and finish our drive, and then went into the fourth quarter 20-6.”
Plays like that also have a detrimental effect for the other team. A lot of Foley’s players, especially their linemen, were 2-way starters and clearly getting fatigued at that point in the game. The Thunder were able to rest a lot of their offensive players while the defense was on the field, and vice versa, but Foley didn’t have that luxury.
They were clearly getting worn down, and that blocked punt, and following touchdown, may have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Completely exhausting the efforts of the Foley players.
“They had more guys, especially on the line, we don’t have any offensive linemen that go full-time both ways, where I think Foley does,” Kish began. “I would say, they wore down because I think some of their linemen were going full-time on both sides of the ball.”
The Thunder would cap the game off with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to finish the game off with a 34-6 win. A dominating effort late, and one that was sparked by that one blocked punt in a close game late in the third quarter.
Now the 2-0 Thunder prepare to take on New London-Spicer Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in their first home game of the season.