ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fresh off Rochester upset, Bluejays take on Vermilion

The Minnesota West college football coaches were hard on their players in the week leading up to last Saturday’s game with nationally-ranked Rochester. And they’ve been hard on them again this week as they prepared to travel to Ely.

WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West college football coaches were hard on their players in the week leading up to last Saturday’s game with nationally-ranked Rochester. And they’ve been hard on them again this week as they prepared to travel to Ely.

It worked once. Maybe it can work again.

The Bluejays had been struggling to find a running game, had been struggling with protection prior to their home game against the Yellowjackets. They responded spectacularly, upsetting the fifth-ranked team in the country, 21-17. Now, against the 1-4 Vermilion Ironmen, head coach Jeff Linder hopes to avoid a setback while making the long trek north.

Because long road trips tend to sap the energy of football players, the Bluejays left Worthington on Friday for an overnight stay in Ely. It’s a bit of a risk. Yes, the gridders should be wide awake on Saturday morning for their 1:30 p.m. kickoff, but many of them aren’t used to leaving home the night before a game, and all that that entails. Linder, however, thinks it’s worth it to keep legs fresh.

As for the victory over Rochester, it was huge. Not only did it improve the Jays to 2-3, but it gave the team a gigantic jolt of confidence.

ADVERTISEMENT

The win was no fluke. West had 18 first downs to Rochester’s 12 and had 301 yards of total offense to Rochester’s 212. West’s average gain per play was 4.7 yards to Rochester’s 3.16. Quarterback Willard Holm completed 19 of 29 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. And running back Rashard Anderson gained 110 yards on 25 carries with a score. Receiver Bailey Cowell caught 11 aerials for 139 yards and a TD.

Minnesota West defensive coordinator Ben DeVries had the Bluejays “flying” on defense, Linder said, and offensive coordinator Connor Kunkel worked hard to get the run game going. The offensive line responded well by sustaining its blocks.

Linder said his team needed to get mean against the Jackets, and they did. He also reminded them of West’s history with Rochester. It’s a storied rivalry that goes back decades.

“There’s a little extra everything when you’re playing the No. 5 team in the country,” Linder explained.

So why ride the Bluejays all week with Vermilion next? The Ironmen haven’t exactly been Rochester-like this year. They’ve allowed 42.4 points per game on defense over their five games.

“They just gotta realize (the Rochester game) is done,” Linder explained.

This is no time to get complacent. The Bluejays are playing for a home field advantage in the playoffs, so they’ve got to stay as mean as ever.

“If we carry this momentum forward,” Linder said, “and not let up because of the records in front of us, it could be a really good thing for us.”

ADVERTISEMENT

So fight, fight, fight.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
What To Read Next
Ben Johnson has experienced winless droughts both as a player and assistant coach with the Gophers
The loss was the 2nd straight by a 35-point margin
Minnesota West basketball teams split Saturday with visiting Golden Rams
The Minnesota West women's basketball team held together in the second half to protect a lead and defeat a strong Riverland team, 77-70, in Worthington on Wednesday