MW FOOTBALL: MW opens playoffs today against CLWORTHINGTON —There wasn’t much that went right for the Minnesota West football team last week.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON —There wasn’t much that went right for the Minnesota West football team last week.
“It was a tough day for us. It kept snowballing on us and the snow storm got bigger and bigger and things kept going just not our way,” MW head coach Jeff Linder said. “You’re going to have games like that from time to time. But often times you can kind of recover. The guys played hard, they kept fighting through all the adversity during the course of a game whether it be turnovers or penalties. But we just did not play very well. We didn’t get out of the gate right away at the start of the game and it took us a while to get going.”
The Bluejays suffered a 52-0 loss to Rochester while committing 10 penalties and multiple turnovers.
“Turnovers will absolutely kill you and they certainly did on Saturday,” Linder said.
But there is good news for the Bluejays (5-3, 1-3). Their season isn’t over quite yet. Today, MW opens playoff action on the road against Central Lakes.
“We just have to turn the page and get into a new chapter and this is a new chapter and actually a new season for us,” Linder said. “We did play Central Lakes very tough here, but it’s a different Central Lakes team. We’re a different team; they’re better, we’re better. We’re on the road; they’re at home. It’s a playoff game and everybody is excited. We’re going to have to be at the top of our game and play well and execute properly for us to win this game.”
The first time around, MW lost to the Raiders by a single point.
“The one thing we took out of the game at the end of our first round with Central Lakes is this: We’re not going to forget how this game ended. It left a bitter, bitter taste in my guys’ mouth,” Linder said. “But, we still have to go out and perform against a very disciplined and very well-coached team. There’s no easy path to a victory. We’re in the playoffs now, the best teams are in and we’re going to have to work hard.”
One thing is for sure, the Bluejays have to play better on both sides of the ball than they did against the Yellowjackets.
Offensively, MW managed a mere 148 total yards.
“It was a tough day for us. We just weren’t mentally there and we didn’t execute properly in our blocking schemes or in anything we did,” Linder said. “We just had an all-around bad day. When those things happen, we just have to keep fighting through it and keep trying to make things happen. But we just couldn’t get a score in; we couldn’t punch it in.”
And defensively, the Bluejays couldn’t get off the field.
“We didn’t have field position all day long, either. We were on our own end of the field the whole day,” Linder said. “It really gets frustrating when you can’t move the ball and you put your defense in a tough position with turnovers and giving them a short field and an opportunity to score. The guys kept playing hard. They were trying to fight through the adversity and unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it done.”
The key for Linder and his team will be to put that behind them and look forward.
“We are capable of playing with any team in the state. That includes Rochester, and I’m not taking anything away from Rochester, Rochester is a great team, but so are we,” Linder said. “But we need to come and be ready to play and execute properly. If we can do those things, we can beat anybody. That being said, we still have to go on the road and it’s always tough up there. We just need to make sure we’re mentally and physically prepared to play a tough playoff game.”
Both Minnesota West and Central Lakes have played games since the earlier matchup, meaning there could still be surprises.
“We did see some changes in their offensive formations and plays they like to run,” Linder said. “Those types of things are going to be an advantage to both teams. You still want to watch film about how you played each other the first round, but you also need to see the last two games they played, just to see if anything has changed.
“As you evolve throughout the course of the season, you get stronger and you’re able to do more. Things will change and we need to make sure we’re on top of that so we don’t have any surprises when it comes to Saturday’s game.”
As the No. 4 seed going on the road to the No. 1, the Bluejays have little pressure.
“The past is the past and I told them they need to leave it there. Turn the page and get to a new chapter, a new season and a new everything,” Linder said. “You have to be revitalized; we have fresh start to a brand new season and make some things happen in the playoffs to prove to people we do deserve to be in the playoffs.”
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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.