MW FOOTBALL: Blue Jays end season with visit to RochesterWORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West football team could do just about anything it wanted to a week ago.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West football team could do just about anything it wanted to a week ago.
“Those guys did a great job,” MW head coach Jeff Linder said. “Offensively we were able to move the ball on the ground and use some clock up. Defensively, we did an excellent job making some plays and creating some plays and keeping their offense off the field for the most part. We put our defense in a tough position once, if not twice, and they held them from scoring. Overall, it was a great team effort. The offensive line did a super job this week. I can’t say enough about them.”
The Bluejays (5-2, 1-2) defeated Itasca 37-0, but perhaps just as important was the fact that MW clinched a playoff berth.
“That’s exciting,” Linder said. “We talked to the guys prior to the game to let them know that this is their playoff game right now. For us to be able to get into the playoffs on our own terms, we had to win (Saturday). That’s what they certainly went out and did. They went out and grabbed themselves a victory and got themselves in the playoffs.”
MW has six points toward the playoffs and is in fourth position. However, there is still a chance the Bluejays could host a playoff game next week.
But they need some help and a win today.
The Bluejays travel to Rochester today for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
“We want to go over there and get ourselves a victory and move ourselves up to a home game possibly; at least put ourselves in a position for a home game,” Linder said. “And I’m sure they want to put themselves in a position for a better seeding. It’s going to be a great game; it’s going to be like a playoff game. Quite frankly, if things play out a certain way, we could turn around and play them once again.”
Rochester enters with a 6-1 overall record and a 2-1 record in the Southern Division.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure we don’t turn the ball over and give them any advantage,” Linder said. “Traditionally, Rochester has always taken advantage of turnovers and miscues and there is nothing different this year. We need to make sure we take care of the rock and make sure our defense gives our offense as many opportunities as possible to try to score.”
Rochester is always a big rivalry for MW, no matter what the sport.
“It doesn’t matter what team it is in the state, whenever you play Rochester there is an added energy there,” Linder said. “Everybody wants to beat the king of the hill and they have been for years. They aren’t right now, but they are still the top program traditionally in Minnesota and we need to go in there and knock the king off the hill.”
And if the Bluejays are going to beat the Yellowjackets, they will have to keep the momentum from a week ago.
MW racked up 457 yards of total offense in the game, including well over 300 on the ground.
“It was a pretty good day for us, I think our ground yardage was 360 and we did a super job,” Linder said. “Enoch Smith had eight carries for 144 yards and even Kevin Harris had minimal carries for high yardage. Hats off to those guys, but really, where it all begins and where it must start is the offensive line and they did an excellent job.
“We were converting on third downs, which we needed to start doing a better job of. This game will give us some really good confidence going into Rochester this week. We are capable of playing at that level all the time; we just need to make sure we play at the level at all times. Hopefully this win and the way we are capable of doing against Fergus Falls will carry over into Rochester.”
Defensively, MW limited the Spartans to a mere 92 yards.
“That was a super job by our defense,” Linder said. “Scott Barber does an excellent job of prepping those guys and they knew exactly what they were going to see. Our defense did a super job. Our linebackers stepped up hard and made some plays, our d-line made some plays and our secondary made some plays. Everybody was playing pretty crisp on Saturday and it’s really good to see.”
Daily Globe Community Content
Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.