Mitchell ready for rival Huron
When Mitchell and Huron line up on the football field it’s always important for everyone involved, but this year the implications are enormous for the Kernels with their seed in the playoffs still up in the air.
Kickoff for the Kernels (3-4) and Tigers (2-5) is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
For the full playoff picture heading into play tonight see Page B2.
Mitchell has seen its fast start sputter into a mid-season lull, dropping its last three games. The Kernels will need a win this week and some help to secure a
home game for the first round of the state playoffs that are set to start Oct. 31.
“It is important because if we beat Huron we get to have a home playoff game and to go into this game playing for something adds to it,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said prior to his team’s practice Wednesday.
The Kernels are coming off a disappointing loss last week to Watertown, dropping Mitchell back into the pack with several other other Class 11AA teams. The Kernels are now facing a situation where if they lose to Huron the first round of the playoffs will be played on the road.
“To start off on such a positive note and to be slumping here it is important for us to be consistent and play four full quarters,” added VanOverschelde, who is undefeated against Huron in his seven years coaching at Mitchell.
The Kernels are currently fourth in Class 11AA with a power point score of 43.329. Fifth-place Harrisburg is close behind with 43.0 and Brookings in sixth has 42.129.
A win over Huron would allow the Kernels to leapfrog third-place Yankton, which is off this week and sitting at 44.000 power points. A loss would leave Mitchell in an unknown situation depending on how the teams behind them fair in the final week of the regular season.
The Kernels are hosting the Tigers for the second consecutive season. Last year, Mitchell picked up its lone win of the season over Huron 12-0 in the Kernel’s final game of the season.
Huron has not defeated Mitchell since 2002, but despite the recent one-sided nature of the rivalry, the Kernels know the past means very little for this year’s game.
“There is something special about the rivalry with Huron,” Mitchell senior center Andrew Getty said Wednesday prior to practice. “That morning you wake up and know its Huron game day, and when you see that orange and black you just flip a switch and go.”
Mitchell’s offense is led by quarterback Kanin Nelson. The sophomore has thrown for 623 yards and four touchdowns on 51-of-113 passing through seven games this season. Nelson has also run the ball 87 times for 178 yards and five scores.
Running back Mitch Johnson leads the Kernel ground game with 114 carries for 460 yards and four scores. Johnson is averaging 4.04 yards per carry on the season. The leading receiver for Mitchell is Matt Larson with nine catches for 181 yards and one touchdown.
Larson is also the leading tackler on defense for the Kernels with 66, while Alex Herrick has contributed 50 tackles. Jon Jamison leads Mitchell in sacks with three, and Chase Harms has recorded two interceptions in seven games.
The Tigers are led by running back Lucas Morrison and quarterback Sam Carr. Morrison is the leading rusher for Huron. On defense, linebacker Tyler Kleinsasser leads the Tigers in tackles. Official stats were not available from Huron coaches.
“It’s always a big game against Mitchell,” Huron coach Michael Postma said.
The Tigers have taken some lumps along the way this season, but they hold a win over an improved Harrisburg team and lost a close game at home to Sioux Falls Washington. Last week, Huron fell on the road 14-12 to Aberdeen Central.
“You can throw the records out the window when Huron and Mitchell play,” Postma added “It is always going to be a battle and the rivalry game heading into the playoffs just adds to it.”