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College football: Minnesota West ranked

WORTHINGTON -- After a disappointing 2016 season, the Minnesota West Community and Technical College football team is optimistic for 2017. The Bluejays are not alone in their optimism. The head coaches of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference...

WORTHINGTON -- After a disappointing 2016 season, the Minnesota West Community and Technical College football team is optimistic for 2017.

The Bluejays are not alone in their optimism. The head coaches of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) have placed the team tenth in its preseason poll.

Central Lakes, who Minnesota West will host in its season opener on Sept. 2 (2:30 p.m. at Trojan Field) is ranked No. 1. The Raiders are No. 13 nationally.

North Dakota State College of Science is ranked No. 2 in the state. Rochester Community College and Dakota College-Bottineau are tied for third. Ridgewater is No. 5, followed by Northland, Mesabi Range, Minnesota State-Fergus Falls, Itasca and Minnesota West. Vermilion Community College and Fond du Lac finished in tie for 11th.

Minnesota West head coach Jeff Linder said this week that he doesn’t put a lot of stock in preseason polls, but he’s looking forward to improving on last year when the Jays won just one game.

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“It’s always an exciting time of year for us. It’s always a fresh beginning,” Linder said. “We’ve got a fresh new group of players, and new excitement. And we’re really looking forward to it.”

In the 2017 poll release, MCAC coaches said of the Bluejays: “Minnesota West doesn’t have to worry about getting to know the head coach, as Jeff Linder heads into his 22nd year with the Bluejays. Linder enjoys having veteran assistants as well, with several staff members having served at Minnesota West for over a decade with the football program. The Bluejays will have a great opportunity to have some people take notice in week one, when they host defending champion Central Lakes.”

Central Lakes, the defending MCAC champion, received all but two first-place votes. The Raiders’ only loss in 2016 was in overtime against the College of DuPage in the inaugural end-of-season Red Grange Bowl. Linder said he and his players are looking forward to a rigorous first test.

“We can see what we’ve got right away,” he said.

With preseason activities well under way in Worthington, Linder added that he’s happy with the direction the team is going. Players are anxious to work, he said, and they’re looking good in practice.

As of mid-week, Minnesota West had 49 dressing for practice, with some late-comers still on the way.

A year ago, the Bluejays were dependable on defense but the offense struggled along with a shaky passing game. The team has three quarterbacks in camp now, and all three have shown an ability to throw the football.

Payton Kendrick is a sophomore transfer from Northland. Frank Cromer is a freshman from Detroit, Mich., And Taylor Romel is another Detroit freshman.

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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