MHS focusing on all-state QB tonight against Brandon ValleyAfter a brutally cold and snowy Friday night last week, Mitchell might have been the only high school football team in the state hoping for repeat weather conditions in tonight’s game. Last week, Mitchell beat Watertown 14-0 in a game played in a steady snowfall with a wind chill in the low 20s. Against a running team like Watertown, the weather probably didn’t make much of a difference.
By: Matt Bunke, The Daily Republic
After a brutally cold and snowy Friday night last week, Mitchell might have been the only high school football team in the state hoping for repeat weather conditions in tonight’s game.
Last week, Mitchell beat Watertown 14-0 in a game played in a steady snowfall with a wind chill in the low 20s. Against a running team like Watertown, the weather probably didn’t make much of a difference.
But tonight, against Brandon Valley’s aerial attack led by all-state quarterback Austin Sumner, a little snow and some frigid temperatures could have aided Mitchell in a potential upset bid.
Unfortunately for the Kernels, they probably won’t get any help from the weather when the two teams meet today at 7:30 p.m. in Brandon. The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers, but nothing like last week.
“It appears that the weather is going to be clear, which will give them an opportunity to run their full spectrum of offense,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “They’re a good football team. They like to throw it and spread it around, and we need to be prepared for that.”
Sumner has been a model of consistency for Brandon Valley this season. Through seven games, he’s only had two where he failed to throw for at least 200 yards, and one of those was last week in the snow, when he threw for 187 yards in a 21-18 win over Pierre.
Sumner has completed just under 60 percent of his passes — he averages almost 35 attempts per game — and has thrown for 1,887 yards while tossing 21 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
“They’re going to want to spread us out,” Mitchell junior linebacker Christ Christopher said. “We have to contain him on the outside and not let him run around, and just get some good pass coverage. That’s about all you can do.”
When preparing for a passing attack like Brandon Valley’s, injuries in the secondary are the last thing a team would want, but that’s what happened to Mitchell this week. Sophomore cornerback Justin Greenway went down with a season-ending ankle injury during Wednesday’s practice.
Luckily for Mitchell, there could have been worse timing for the injury. Senior safety Tyler Volesky will return this week from a dislocated finger that sidelined him for several games, and senior Tanner Sterk will be available in the secondary as well as he returns from a training rules violation.
Mitchell should be able to carry over confidence from last week’s win over Watertown, the Kernels’ first of the season. The Kernels dominated defensively in the win, holding the Arrows to 10 yards of total offense and minus-35 rushing yards. However, that win came against a 2-5 Watertown team, not a team like Brandon Valley that is 6-1 overall and tied with Pierre for second place in the Eastern South Dakota Conference with a 4-1 record.
“We just have to be disciplined and we have to contain (Sumner),” VanOverschele said. “We’ve made some improvements in our coverage and our aggressiveness. Our defensive line has played well. We have to contain him and not give him second opportunities, especially if he decides to take off and run. I think he’s most dangerous when he’s on the run.”
Offensively, the Kernels have continued to improve over the course of the season and rushed for 207 yards last week, their second-highest total of the season. However, the Kernels also turned the ball over six times in the game, the third time they’ve had that many in a game, and VanOverschelde knows that against Brandon Valley, the Kernels won’t be able to get away with that again.
“The biggest thing is we need to make sure we eliminate turnovers,” VanOverschelde said. “We hope to attack with the run game, and hopefully that will set up some passing. We just need to strive to be more consistent. We’re kind of streaky that way, but a lot of that is because turnovers have affected that.”