MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays face Fergus Falls in must win gameWORTHINGTON — Last week’s game left a sour taste in the mouth of the Minnesota West football team. And head coach Jeff Linder hopes his team uses that as motivation today.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Last week’s game left a sour taste in the mouth of the Minnesota West football team.
And head coach Jeff Linder hopes his team uses that as motivation today.
“The thing we need to work on all week is to make sure that bad taste in our mouth gets directed in the right direction and not dwell on it because there is nothing we can do about it right now,” Linder said.
A week ago, the Bluejays (4-2, 0-2 division) lost 21-20 to Central Lakes.
“There were times when we had opportunities where we didn’t capitalize on them,” Linder said. “We scored a touchdown with about 11 minutes left in the game and we missed the extra point. Those things are going to happen. We still had 11 minutes and couldn’t put any drives together. We had a few opportunities but in the end, we fell short to a very good team.”
Today, the Bluejays square off against Fergus Falls (1-5, 0-3).
“They like to spread it out and they will run at you and they will throw it at you,” Linder said. “Defensively, they like to run a 30 a front and get after it. Their defense is actually pretty good. Offensively, they are not afraid to get downfield, but you’re going to see a lot more play-action passing out of them and some running game out of them. Defensively, we’re going to have to keep getting stops and give our offense an opportunity to go down there and score.”
The Bluejays are holding onto the final playoff spot in the Southern Division. However, Fergus Falls can still take that spot from them.
“It’s absolutely crucial that we win,” Linder said. “Technically, Fergus Falls still has a shot to get in the playoffs. If they beat us and they beat their next opponent and we would happen to lose the rest of the way out, we’re in trouble. We are out and they are in. This is absolutely a huge game for us. It has to be a playoff-type game atmosphere for us.”
Today’s game, with kickoff slated for 2:30 p.m. at Trojan Field, is Homecoming for MW.
“Homecoming is always exciting because we do get guys coming back,” Linder said. “These guys are resilient and they will bounce back and they play hard like they always have.”
A week ago, the Bluejays managed a mere 145 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, the Raiders had 245 yards.
“Our defense gave up some yardage, but when it was time to hold, they held,” Linder said. “We took and we had opportunities. Once again, offensively, we didn’t move the ball very well. I think the first half, especially after that first score, our defense was on the field an awfully long time. They stepped up to the challenge and worked hard. They kept giving us opportunities to get the ball back and try to do something with it. Unfortunately we fell short in the game.”
However, CL ran 17 more plays during the game.
“When you end up doing that, your offense can’t get in a rhythm. When you can’t’ get in a rhythm, then it’s short three and outs and you’re putting your defense out there on a very hot day,” Linder said. “Hats off to the defense, they came out there and stood up to the challenge and took it on and got us the ball back as many times as they did. We just needed to do something with it.”
During the week, the coaches stressed that it’s time to move on from the loss and focus on today’s game.
“I told them to turn the page on a chapter. It’s a new chapter this week,” Linder said. “I tell you what, if you’re still not happy with how it ended last week, take it out on the team we’re going to face. I think they’ve kind of responded to that and hopefully we can keep our mind focused on a tough team coming in and a dangerous team coming in because if we’re not ready, they will jump up and bite us. We just cannot afford to have that happen and we need to be prepared for any team that comes in here and it just happens to be Fergus Falls.”
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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.