Kernel backs need big gameIt’s no secret that if the Mitchell High School football team wants to come away with a win tonight, it needs to get more success from its top two running backs.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
It’s no secret that if the Mitchell High School football team wants to come away with a win tonight, it needs to get more success from its top two running backs.
In last week’s 71-10 loss to Brandon Valley, the combination of Mitch Johnson and Landon Neugebauer combined to lose five yards on 11 carries.
On the season, Neugebauer has 120 yards rushing on 42 carries, while Johnson has 121 yards on 43 attempts.
“They’ve had some times where they’ve played really well and at times they’ve reverted back to things that we’ve had to try and fix,” Kernels coach Kent VanOverschelde said.
Mitchell (0-4) takes on Pierre (3-1) at 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell and VanOverschelde said part of the reason for the running game’s problems last week started up front.
“Our offensive line needs to get going,” he said before Thursday’s practice. “We went into the season with a certain amount of dependence on them, and they need to come out and play physical to match the intensity of the other team.”
Mitchell averages just less than 100 yards per game on the ground, totaling 392 yards rushing as a team through four games.
Andrew Getty, the team’s starting center, said last week was a disappointing game for the offensive line.
“We’ve got to get off the ball better and play better up front,” he said. “We know what we’re doing, we’ve just got to go do it.”
The Kernels’ line was able to open up a few holes in the loss to the Lynx, including an 80-yard touchdown rush by Chase Harms.
“Our offense has shown flashes,” Getty said. “We’ve just got to put it together and make a game out of it.”
Mitchell’s offense has averaged just more than 10 points per game and will have to keep up with Pierre, which is averaging 33 points per contest.
Before Brandon Valley’s 71 point performance, the Kernels hadn’t given up more than 28 points a game.
On the defensive side of the ball, VanOverschelde said the line has improved throughout the season and will be a key aspect tonight.
“We hope to contain things in the run game and try to do a good job against the pass,” he said. “It appears that their success has come through the air with timely play action.”
The Governors average 284 yards rushing per game and 117 yards in the air.
Pierre coach Joe Kramer said it’s no secret what the Governors’ approach is when they have the ball.
“I fully expect to establish the run and once you can do that you can go to the play-action pass,” he said. “We’re most effective when we throw the ball when we want to and not when the other team thinks we have to.”
In Pierre’s 34-26 victory over Brookings last week, the Governors were led offensively by Austin Wagner with 165 yards rushing, Lane Severyn with 95 yards receiving and Alex Gray’s 168 yards passing with three touchdowns.
Severyn was Gray’s target on two touchdown completions and Wagner recorded one rushing touchdown.
Mitchell’s defense has to play better than it did last week, although the 71 points given up is not a true sign of how the Kernels’ defense played.
Brandon Valley, ranked No. 2 in Class AA, scored four defensive touchdowns and ran just two offensive plays on its side of the football field in the first half against the Kernels.
“We almost felt trapped on our end last week,” VanOverschelde said. “Field position is a significant thing. I don’t care what team you’re playing, if you give them a short field, they’re going to take advantage of it.”
Kramer, whose team has won three straight, said despite Mitchell’s winless record, his team fully expects a tough football game.
“I’ve watched Mitchell and they play hard and are a dangerous team,” he said. “We know we have to be ready, and if we’re not, we’re going to go home with a loss.”