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Bluejays angling for third straight win

Minnesota West Bluejays

WORTHINGTON -- After a second straight week of getting two players selected as MCAC Western Division players of the week, the Minnesota West Bluejays are flying high. Their 36-12 triumph over MState-Fergus Falls last Saturday was their second straight, and a win over visiting Vermilion this weekend would put them at 3-1 on the season.

Which means this is no time to let up on the gas, said head coach Jeff Linder.

Vermilion is an athletic team -- a team that has the tools to score and score quickly -- a team perfectly capable of winning Saturday’s game.

“We’ve got to avoid getting too comfortable with where we’re at,” Linder said as he looked ahead to the game, which will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at Trojan Field.

If they’re not too comfortable already, the Bluejays are certainly beginning to find a comfort zone in their performances. Second-year quarterback Andrew Ortiz (Albuquerque, N.M.) completed 19 of 33 passes for 320 yards and five touchdowns against MState en route to Offensive Athlete of the Week status, and teammate Joshua King, a lineman from Atlanta, Ga., was also awarded by the conference after turning in a solid game.

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A week earlier, defensive lineman Brandon Wagner (Omaha, Neb.) and offensive lineman Dylan Svoboda (Jackson) were athletes of the week.

The Jays, said Linder, are improving with their offensive line play, and the running game got going “a little bit” last week. The defense has seen success with a “bend but don’t break” attitude.

Saturday’s opponent, Vermilion, has yet to get its collective act together. It lost its first game of the season 32-21 to Northland, its second 49-13 to Central Lakes and its third 42-14 to Fond du Lac. To help stave off complacency in the Bluejays’ offensive and defensive units, Linder said, he’s been challenging his players to initiate more competition in practice.

The night game is unique to Minnesota West, which almost always plays its Saturday games late in the mornings or on afternoons. Players, said the coach, are excited about playing under the lights -- like they used to do in high school.

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