Kernels look to squander Tigers' playoff hopesDespite Mitchell High School not having a chance at making the Class 11AA football playoffs, the Kernels final regular season game does have playoff implications.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
Despite Mitchell High School not having a chance at making the Class 11AA football playoffs, the Kernels final regular season game does have playoff implications.
Mitchell (0-8) hosts Huron (2-6) at 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. The Tigers currently sit in 13th place in the power point standings, with the top 12 teams earning a spot in the playoffs.
With the power point scenarios, Huron could still slide into the top 12 with a loss, but the Tigers would likely miss out on the postseason.
“There are several things that have to happen for us to make it in if we don’t win,” Huron coach Mike Postma said.
Postma added that he knows Mitchell has thoughts of spoiling its rival’s chances.
“Mitchell would love nothing better than to keep Huron out of the playoffs,” he said. “They are a very dangerous team and this is their playoff game.”
Kent VanOverschelde, the head coach of the Kernels, said Huron’s playoff hopes are not the motivating factor for Mitchell.
“From our standpoint, a win is a win,” VanOverschelde said. “We would like to finish on a positive note with a win and it could motivate us in the offseason, but how that affects them has significance for them, for us it’s just about getting a win.”
Both coaches said the game would most likely come down to the battle of the line of scrimmage. Especially with the possible rain and high winds in the forecast, the run game may be the key.
“The team that is able to run the ball best will have a huge advantage,” Postma said.
Despite the Kernels missing their top rushing threat, VanOverschelde seemed confident that his team would be able to have success on the ground.
Landon Neugebauer injured his left knee is last week’s loss to Yankton after tallying 282 yards rushing for the Kernels.
With the loss of Neugebauer, Mitchell may lean heavily on sophomore Mitch Johnson. Johnson already leads the team in carries with 84 on the year. He’s managed to record 215 yards and one touchdown on those attempts.
“We’ll rely on Mitch Johnson to carry the load,” VanOverschelde said. “But you might see some faces that were very successful on the JV level contribute as well.”
VanOverschelde mentioned Chase Harms and Mitch Berens as possible players to be given more of an opportunity today.
Harms has five carries for 84 yards this season, including an 80-yard touchdown against Brandon Valley, while Berens has rushed the ball twice for the Kernels this season for six yards.
“Hopefully we can just take it to the ground all game and pound it at them,” Johnson said. “We want to run the ball at them all game.”
VanOverschelde said he expects the same approach from the Tigers.
“I don’t foresee them spreading things out and trying to beat us to the edges,” he said. “I see them coming out and trying to establish the line of scrimmage, much like we’re going to.”
Huron’s offensive attack has had its most success with the ground game. The team has rushed for 1,149 yards on the season, compared to 859 yards passing.
Zach Brown leads the team in rushing with 335 yards on 64 attempts. Lucas Morrison has carried the ball the most, rushing for 276 yards on 80 carries, while Tyler Kleinsasser has 329 yards on 62 rushing attempts.
“We’ve had several different backs that have stepped up,” Postma said.
Morrison has six rushing touchdowns on the year to lead the Tigers, while Kleinsasser and Brown have each found the end zone twice. Morrison also has one receiving touchdown.
Tonight’s game marks the end of the regular season and the last opportunity for the Kernels to record a win on the year.
“I don’t think you can really define this team by the record,” VanOverschelde said. “But a win would be nice for the seniors to have.”