Kernels looking for bounce-back win versus BrookingsAfter losing possession on four fumbles last week in a 22-14 loss to Watertown, the Mitchell High School football team spent a lot of practice time holding onto the ball in preparation for tonight’s home-opening game against Brookings.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
After losing possession on four fumbles last week in a 22-14 loss to Watertown, the Mitchell High School football team spent a lot of practice time holding onto the ball in preparation for tonight’s home-opening game against Brookings.
The Kernels (0-1) take on the Bobcats (1-0) at 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, if we turn the ball over like we did last game and don’t make an improvement, there isn’t a team we can beat,” Kernels coach Kent VanOverschelde said.
Mitchell gained 43 more total yards than the Arrows in Saturday’s loss, showing how detrimental the four fumbles and one interception were to the Kernels.
Running back Landon Neugebauer — who rushed for 121 yards on 17 carries and had a touchdown in the opener — said he’s confident that the team will maintain possession better this week.
“All week, we’ve been holding onto the ball and trying to hit it out of each other’s arms,” he said. “It seems like it’s all we’ve been working on.”
Although he was disappointed in the turnovers, VanOverschelde was impressed with the performances from the running back duo of sophomores Neugebauer and Mitch Johnson. Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 77 yards and also had a touchdown against Watertown.
“Both Mitch and Landon showed that they are capable of playing at this level,” VanOverschelde said. “They just have to be able to hold on to the football.
“Obviously, when you have young players, some of those mistakes are going to come out and we’re going to have to grow fast and learn from those experiences.”
Brookings head coach Lee Schmidt knows the Kernels’ main offensive attack comes from the running game and said he hopes to hold down Mitchell’s running backs.
“We’re going to have to stop the option and take away the running game,” Schmidt said. “We want to force them to throw the ball.
Last week, Mitchell recorded just 29 yards through the air of the 244 total team yards. Matt Larson was 5-of-12 passing with an interception, but played well according to his coach.
“I was happy with Matt’s performance,” VanOverschelde said. “We do have to be able to throw the ball with a little more assertiveness.”
VanOverschelde said the Kernels’ offense expects to see a lot of blitzes from the Bobcats’ defense.
“We’re going to have to handle their aggressiveness and hit some quick-type things to get them to bring off that heat a little bit,” he said. “It appears to me that they want to play up-tempo. We’re going to have to play a little different than we did against Watertown and we’re prepared for that.”
VanOverschelde also said his defense must be ready for a fast-paced offensive attack from the Bobcats.
Brookings defeated Huron 31-14 in its season opener as quarterback Kaleb Vig had a big game. Vig was 9-of-19 passing for 163 yards and three touchdowns and also added 50 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“Vig played very consistent and made good decisions,” Schmidt said.
This season marks the first for Vig at the quarterback position. The senior has played wide receiver and running back for the Bobcats in previous seasons, but took over the role behind center for his final year of high school.
“They’re a spread team that executed very well against their first opponent,” VanOverschelde said. “We just have to be able to adapt and react to what they’re doing. We can’t just sit there and let them dictate the tempo.”
VanOverschelde hopes one week of experience and playing the first home game can help his squad to pull out a victory.
“Playing the second game of the year, hopefully some of that nervousness is out,” he said. “This is a great opponent for us to open our home season with. We have some interesting matchups, but I think we can put ourselves in a position where we can be successful.”
Added Neugebauer: “This whole week has been slow because we’ve wanted to get onto the field Friday night in front of the home crowd and show them what we’re made of.”