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College football: Minnesota West to play home opener

WORTHINGTON -- After two long road trips to start the season, the Minnesota West football team plays its home opener today (Saturday, Sept. 15) against MState-Fergus Falls.

The Bluejays opened in eye-opening fashion, beating Central Lakes 36-12. Next came a 28-25 overtime loss to Mesabi Range.

Today’s opponent, in a 1:30 p.m. start at Trojan Field in Worthington, also sports a 1-1 record. The Spartans lost their opener 48-6 to Mesabi Range before beating Vermilion last week 40-13. In the Vermilion contest, MState rolled up 418 yards of total offense and held its opponents to 264. Quarterback Winston Sweeting completed 15 of 30 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns while running backs Dion Munerlyn carried 14 times for 96 yards and Mykhal Chavis 13 times for 72.

The Bluejays are getting good play from their offense, led by freshman quarterback Andrew Ortiz and wide receiver Reginald Colson III, who led the nation in yards per game last season. In two games, Ortiz -- who is also a good runner -- has completed 25 of 48 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those have gone to Colson.

Jays running back Khaileb Desmond carried 24 times for 167 yards and a touchdown against Mesabi Range.

“They’re very similar to us in our styles of play,” said West head coach Jeff Linder in comparing the Spartans to the Bluejays. “And it’s always been a physical game, and we always been closely matched.”

In the past, Linder said, the two teams have played to the other one’s level regardless of talent. The veteran mentor hopes his squad can break out of that rut today and continue the generally solid play they’ve started the 2018 season with.

“We played well (in the Mesabi Range game). But we made mistakes and we didn’t capitalize on opportunities,” said Linder, who recalled a particular missed opportunity when the Jays recovered a fumble on the Mesabi 30-yard line but “couldn’t do anything with it.”

But on the plus side, he said, “We did find out that we could run the ball. Our defense is still young and still growing. … We’re still trying to find ourselves a little bit. We’re getting to know who we are.”

Today’s game is the first division game of the season.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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