College football: Despite setback, playoffs beckon Ridgewater
WILLMAR -- In the stroke of a pen -- or perhaps, better put, the click of a key -- at NJCAA headquarters, the Ridgewater Warriors record flipped from 3-1 to 0-4 on homecoming week.
WILLMAR - In the stroke of a pen - or perhaps, better put, the click of a key - at NJCAA headquarters, the Ridgewater Warriors record flipped from 3-1 to 0-4 on homecoming week.
The Warriors program was docked on Thursday for using an ineligible player. Ridgewater is the fourth team in the 11-school MCAC to be penalized this fall.
Ridgewater athletic director Todd Thorstad said the Warriors’ roster contained an ineligible player in each of the Warriors’ first four games. Academic standing was not the issue, Thorstad said in an e-mail. Rather, through an oversight, the player’s name had been omitted from the roster filed electronically with the NJCAA.
The good news, for the Willmar-based team, is that half the season remains with a chance to still make the playoffs.
Ridgewater hosts Minnesota West (0-1, 1-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday for homecoming. A Warriors’ victory (worth two points) would elevate them from last place into fourth place ahead of the Bluejays in the five-team South Division. The top four teams from the South advance to playoffs.
Ridgewater plays the St. John’s JV at Collegeville on Oct. 5 (a one-point game), then has North Dakota State College of Science (two points) back home Oct. 18 and finish out at Brainerd vs. Central Lakes (one point) on Oct. 25.
Warriors’ head coach Rob Baumgarn broke the news to his players at practice on Thursday. He told them they are still a 3-1 team despite what the NJCAA says.
“For the most part, the team took it very well,” he said. “Their attitude was let’s go out and win the rest. Our 65 kids have stuck together.”
More problematic than the NJCAA punishment right now are injuries. Running back DaShawn Bell was lost in the win at M State Fergus Falls with a dislocated hip. Running mate Dominick Wise is banged up and hasn’t practiced. QB Tony Ayala has sore ribs and his play the past two games has not matched his play in the early season.
The Warriors defense continues to lead the MCAC in fewest points allowed (55) and are second in fewest yards allowed per game (223).