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Bluejays have much to play for in Fond du Lac game

Minnesota West Bluejays

WORTHINGTON -- If there was a little edge to the Minnesota West Community and Technical College football practices this week, it shouldn’t be surprising.

The Bluejays have one regular season game yet to play, it’s on the road, and the team is hating the road. Players are determined to win today’s game (Saturday) at Fond du Lac in the hope that they can play in the friendly confines of Trojan Field on Sunday, Oct. 27, for their first Western Division playoff test.

“We want a home game pretty bad. Our guys want a home game and we feel we play much better at home,” said veteran MW head coach Jeff Linder this week. “They know as well as I do. They say they need a home game because they play much better. And so I said, ‘You gotta go out there and earn it.’”

Minnesota West, 4-0 at home this fall, is 0-3 on the road after losing to NDSCS 31-6 last weekend. It wasn’t pretty. On a messy field, the run-happy Wildcats were able to take advantage of what they do best while frustrating a Bluejays team that relies on its quickness.

“They just ran the ball. They had a real good offensive line that was moving us, and it was mucky and muddy,” Linder said. “They just pounded it. Not to take anything away from them. They’re a good team. But just not an ideal condition for our offense.”

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The playing field should be better today. It will be on turf, and the Bluejays, Linder said, are excited about competing on a field where their quickness can be on display.

Fond du Lac is 0-8 on the season and coming off a 64-14 loss to an outstanding Mesabi Range team. Linder said the Thunder possess quickness of their own, have a mobile quarterback, and like to be physical.

As far as that 0-8 record goes, Linder doesn’t want to hear about it.

“We’re not even talking about record. I don’t even want to hear about record,” he said.

Even if they win today, the Bluejays may have to wait a little longer than usual to get their postseason marching orders. Conference teams were informed late this week that seeding formulations have been retracted until after this weekend due to “forfeitures” that still need to be sorted out.

It was recently announced by the NJCAA that Central Lakes and Fond du Lac forfeited regular season contests due to the use of ineligible players, which could impact the playoff schedule.

Prior to today’s game, however, West had expected to play Northland -- a team it lost to 27-26 on Sept. 28 -- home or away to open the postseason. Both teams possess 2-2 league records this morning, and in case of a tie Northland would finish above West based on the head-to-head matchup.

Northland plays Central Lakes (2-5 overall) today.

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