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College football: Minnesota West defense to be put to the test

WORTHINGTON — There’s no time to rest for the Minnesota West Bluejays football squad.

One big test was passed with flying colors last Saturday. This Saturday, another big test looms.

The Bluejays go to Brainerd this weekend to play Central Lakes, a 40-23 winner last week over Minnesota State-Fergus Falls and owner of a 4-1 overall record (1-1 in the Southern Division). The last time Minnesota West played a road game, on Sept. 21, they played their worst game of the season in a 33-13 setback to the Northland Pioneers.

The Jays bounced back impressively last week in a 26-6 win over another outstanding team, Ridgewater. But now it’s another game on the road against a strong opponent — and against an opponent that traditionally takes care of its business at home.

Minnesota West, 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Division, will face a well-balanced Raiders team led by sophomore quarterback Andrew Johnson, who threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Fergus Falls. For his efforts, Johnson (whose TD passes covered 35, 50 and 24 yards) was named the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division Player of the Week.

Johnson is the top-rated quarterback in the division, having completed 74 of 131 passing attempts (56.5 percent) for 1,293 yards and 13 touchdowns, with only five interceptions. Through five games, he has passed for at least 560 yards more than any other quarterback in the division.

“They’re going to present a challenge to our defense,” said West head coach Jeff Linder Thursday. “Their quarterback does a pretty good job of getting out of trouble, and also throwing the ball.”

Defensively, Linder says the Raiders run an “odd” look defensively. If the Bluejays load up in the I formation, he suspects Central Lakes will put one safety high and try to shut down the run game.

So far this season, the Bluejays — who strive for balance — have experienced much success running the football but inconsistency throwing it. How they fare on Saturday may depend on their ability to click with the aerial game.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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