Bluejays face pesky Fergus Falls team
WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West football team is 6-1 overall, tied atop the Southern Division and ranked No. 16 in the country. However, that won't deter the Bluejays today when MSCTC-Fergus Falls (1-6) comes to town. Kickoff is slated for 2:30...
WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West football team is 6-1 overall, tied atop the Southern Division and ranked No. 16 in the country.
However, that won't deter the Bluejays today when MSCTC-Fergus Falls (1-6) comes to town.
Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. at Trojan field.
"We don't want to stumble now against a very dangerous Fergus Falls team," MW head coach Jeff Linder said. "We've come so far and we need to make sure that we're prepared and focused on Fergus and Fergus alone."
"All the rest of the stuff will work out at the end, and that's what I continue to tell them. I was really getting my point across pretty firmly. After I did that, practice tightened up right away. We've had some extremely good practices."
While MW has won five consecutive games after a 1-1 start, four of those games have been decided by seven points or less.
Last week, the Bluejays defeated Central Lakes 13-12 in the national game of the week.
"It was probably one of the most physical games we've had," Linder said. "Ridgewater was right there, but we've had a couple of physical, close games."
MW went to Willmar and defeated Ridgewater the week before on a last-minute touchdown run by Lon Garfield.
While Garfield was the main threat two weeks ago, it was the Bluejays' running game that sparked the victory against CL.
James Sebea had 89 yards last week, and leads the Bluejays with 364 yards. However, Travaris Pickens, who rushed for 40 yards last week, has 350 yards this season, creating a one-two punch in the backfield.
"James is a hard runner," Linder said. "He's a physical, north-south runner. He's the type of runner that I like to see. Then you put in a finesse back in Travaris Pickens, so we have a couple of good backs that can help us."
Garfield has completed 88 of 183 passes for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"I think their passing yardage defensively and their rushing yardage defensively is about the same," Linder said. "So we're going to see how they adjust to us and the different things that we do and take what we can get. It could be a balanced kind of day, it could be a running kind of day or it could be a passing kind of day. It all depends on what's available to us."
Fergus Falls has allowed 1,171 yards rushing and 1,168 yards passing and has given up 215 points -- the most in the league.
"We're going to have to control the line of scrimmage," Linder said. "We can do a lot of things, but so can they. It's going to come down to who can control the line of scrimmage. But their overall team speed is above average, so they can cover a lot of field."
Offensively, the Spartans have 238 yards rushing and 1,182 yards passing and have scored 94 points -- the fewest in the league.
But with a tough Southern Division, Linder isn't looking at the numbers.
"They really are a very, very good team," Linder said. "The Southern Division is extremely tough, and even though they don't have the best record, they've had some close games."
Running a two-quarterback system, Eric Wentworth (563 yards) and Trent Graves (502 yards) will share time under center.
"We've shown a lot of film, and they have really good team speed," Linder said. "They are not afraid to pound it at you or throw it at you. They are aggressive offensively, and they hold their field defensively. We have to make sure we are prepared because they are a very good team."
Jarvis Greenhill leads the division with 42 receptions and 614 yards, while Garin Gardner has 26 grabs for 335 on the season.
"They have a couple of good receivers that we are going to have to make sure we know where they're at," Linder said. "They are just a very dangerous team for us right now."
Nathan Kelly leads the Spartans with 281 yards rushing, but the quarterbacks take opportunities to scramble.
"One moves better and does a little bit more," Linder said. "He's able to run and or pull it down and throw. The other is more of a thrower and he's not as mobile."
Even though a win does not assure the Bluejays a spot in the playoffs, Linder knows every point counts in the standings.
"We need to win, and it does not guarantee playoffs yet," Linder said. "The Southern Division is extremely tight right now. We're not even looking at the playoffs right now; we're completely focused on Fergus Falls.
"We control our own destiny, but we need to make sure we're prepared. Saturday's game felt like a playoff game and that's the way we've been approaching it every week. Every game we play when we started in the Southern Division is a playoff game. So far, they've responded well."