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Mitchell Christian players jump on opportunity

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The Mitchell High School football team is a family, but not all members are from the same school.

This year, there are Mitchell Christian students playing for the Kernels -- the most seven-year coach Kent VanOverschelde remembers having in one season. Joining in black and gold this season are junior Chandler Nelson and sophomores Kane Blindauer and Zach Buche.

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"It provides more diversity within the team," VanOverschelde said. "They've acclimated very well and we've welcomed them onto the team. We enjoy having them and it gives them another opportunity to expand out from their school climate."

Nelson and Blindauer have played since their seventh-grade years with the Kernels, while Buche is in his first year playing the sport.

Junior Robert McCardle said he enjoys working with kids from another school and competing against them.

"We're all competitors and working for the team," said McCardle, who's played alongside Nelson for five years. "It's a changeup but I really like it. Seeing new people and getting to know them and making more friends in the end is really what it's all about."

Nelson said he likes the opportunity that's been given to Mitchell Christian kids to play football.

"It's really not any different than playing with kids from my school," Nelson said. "I'm so appreciative for the opportunity to do this, and it's a great chance to play football since we don't have it at Mitchell Christian."

Mitchell High School Activities Director Geoff Gross said the co-op between the two schools is unique.

"We have not pursued any other co-op. Usually other school districts do the pursuing," Gross said, adding the football co-op has been in place for nearly 15 years. "We normally don't co-op with other schools because we feel that it's an advantage for our kids to have those opportunities. That's a perk of going to a larger school is being able to participate in more activities."

The Kernels have been practicing since Aug. 15 and have their first game Aug. 31 when they travel to play the Yankton Bucks in an Eastern South Dakota Conference game.

NOTES -- Mitchell Christian's Alec Nelson, Chandler's brother, is also playing on the Mitchell Middle School seventh-grade team this season.

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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