MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays fall to Raiders in first round of playoffsBRAINERD — After the ups and downs of a long football season, the Minnesota West Bluejays fell to the Central Lakes Raiders 21-0 in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
BRAINERD — After the ups and downs of a long football season, the Minnesota West Bluejays fell to the Central Lakes Raiders 21-0 in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.
“The boys worked hard all year to get to the playoffs,” MW coach Jeff Linder said. “We ended the year where we wanted to be, and that was in the playoffs. We had to travel into a tough environment at Central Lakes.
“I am proud of the season we had. The guys continued to fight hard. And as long as they put in their best effort the whole game, I can’t ask more.”
The Raiders opened the scoring on a 15-yard pass from Andrew Johnson to Anthony Shelman to cap off an eight-play, 35-yard drive in the first quarter.
CL increased its lead to 14 after Matt Mogere returned a Reuben Linton III punt 42 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Johnson and Shelman connected again in the third quarter, this time on a 44-yard touchdown pass to put the Raiders up 21-0.
Despite the loss, Linder felt his team played better than the previous week’s 52-0 setback against the Yellowjackets of Rochester, especially on defense.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Linder said. “They played well as a whole unit. They hustled to the ball, hit hard and worked hard the whole game. In the end, though, Central Lakes was able to score a couple.”
However, the Bluejay offense was more or less ineffective, picking up just 2 total yards rushing.
“Offensively, we had a hard time getting ourselves going,” Linder said. “We had a few sparks here and there, but we came up short.”
MW gained 195 yards through the air, but four costly interceptions (two each for Logan Massop and Calvin Davidson) stopped the team from gaining any real momentum.
“You can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did and win games,” Linder said. “With the turnovers, we couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. It was hard to re-establish anything when we kept turning the ball over.”
With this season coming to an end, another group of sophomores will be moving on. However, Linder feels this year’s freshman class will be able to fill in the holes of those departing players fairly well.
“It sounds like we will have a solid core of returning players next year,” Linder said. “But it is tough to see the sophomores go, too. It is hard to get those kids as freshmen, then the next thing you know they are moving on.
“You finally get them where you want them as players and as a person and then they are gone.”
Despite the disappointment Linder feels in losing in the first round of the playoffs, he is extremely proud of his players for the way they played throughout the year.
“They should all be proud of themselves,” Linder said. “They might not feel proud right now, but when they look back on this season, they will be proud of themselves, too.”
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
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