MW needs win to clinch division championship
WORTHINGTON -- It's pretty simple for Minnesota West in today's 2 p.m. football game. Win, and it's Southern Division champions. However, if Rochester would happen to defeat the Bluejays, then things start to get tricky. If MW loses and Central L...
WORTHINGTON -- It's pretty simple for Minnesota West in today's 2 p.m. football game.
Win, and it's Southern Division champions.
However, if Rochester would happen to defeat the Bluejays, then things start to get tricky.
If MW loses and Central Lakes defeats Ridgewater, a coin flip would determine first and second place in the division.
The Bluejays (7-1, 3-0) sit atop the division with 10 points, while Central Lakes and Rochester each have eight.
However, if CL and Rochester each pick up victories, all three teams would have 10 points.
"We have two things going on, we have us trying to get a Southern Division title and get in the playoffs, and (Rochester) is trying to do the same thing," MW head coach Jeff Linder said. "It's going to be a dog fight; it really is. It's going to be who can come out of the momentum swings and it's definitely going to come down to special teams and who turns the ball over the least amount."
While the simplest solution is a MW victory, today's game won't be easy.
Rochester (6-2, 2-1) leads the Southern Division in total defense.
"Their front four is pretty solid," Linder said. "They manhandled Ridgewater pretty good up front. I don't know, with the type of defense that they run, that we're going to be able to do what we'd like to do. But we're certainly going to try and see what they give us and make adjustments from there."
The Yellowjackets have allowed a division-leading 1,349 total yards in eight games, while opponents have scored a mere 87 points this season.
"We still have to keep them honest and have to be able to run the ball," Linder said. "Throwing is an option, but it's going to depend on how they adjust to what we're doing and how they adjust to us."
MW quarterback Lon Garfield enters the game with 1,276 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Travaris Pickens leads the team with 499 yards rushing, while James Sebea has added 435 yards this season.
Despite coming off a 41-10 victory last week against Fergus Falls, the Bluejays did not have a productive first quarter -- and trailed 2-0.
"We have to come out ready to go, especially against a team like this or it's going to be an awfully long day for the Bluejays," Linder said.
Rochester brings a balanced attack into today's game.
Stephen Owens had thrown for 885 yards, while Seth Karlsrud leads the rushing attack with 377 yards.
As a team, the Yellowjackets have run for 1,381 yards and thrown for 1,115 while scoring 260 points this season.
"I think they have 21 different formations that we've had to work with," Linder said. "They do the 'check with me' from the line of scrimmage. They line back up and get ready to go. It's not a hurry up, but they are assessing the alignment and they'll adjust accordingly."
However, the Bluejays are ready for whatever comes their way.
"We're more than ready for that," Linder said. "I think the biggest thing is that we disguise ourselves a little bit leading up to the start of the play. We have to make it difficult for them to figure out what we're doing."
One key in the game will be turnovers and mistakes.
"The big thing is that you have to take advantage of opportunities," Linder said. "If one arises, then we need to capitalize on that. Traditionally they've always capitalized on mistakes. They are the big dog on the block; they've won the most state titles. They are playing real well right now and they are a very good team."
For a Bluejay team trying to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in two years, their destiny is in their own hands.
"If we can keep our composure, keep from turning the ball over and our special teams can come through, I think we'll be OK," Linder said. "But I'm sure they're thinking the same thing."