Kernels finish season on high noteBehind a strong first quarter, the Mitchell High School football team ended its season with a 12-0 win over Huron Thursday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
Behind a strong first quarter, the Mitchell High School football team ended its season with a 12-0 win over Huron Thursday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
The Kernels knew a playoff berth was out of their reach, but that didn’t stop them from shutting out the Tigers (2-7). The win was the first for the Kernels, who end the season 1-8.
With wet and rainy conditions, it was clear that whichever team could run the ball more efficiently would have the advantage. Wind gusts in Mitchell peaked at 61 mph Thursday, making the passing game nearly nonexistent in the game.
Knowing that, the Kernels’ offensive line had its best outing of the season. After forcing Huron to punt after three plays to open the game, Mitchell drove 50 yards on 10 plays for the opening touchdown.
All 10 plays in the Kernels’ drive were on the ground, including eight from Mitch Johnson for 45 yards and two by quarterback Matt Larson for five yards and a touchdown. The drive was capped with a 1-yard touchdown from the sophomore QB.
“I think from the beginning, we knew exactly what we needed to do,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “Mitch Johnson ran exceptionally hard and Matt ran the offense.”
Johnson led all players with 105 yards rushing on 26 carries.
The Kernels attempted their first pass of the game to open the third offensive drive, and after an incompletion, the team decided to go back to the ground. Larson got a big hole on the left side running an option, and he took off down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown to give the team its 12-0 lead.
Larson finished the game with 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He completed 1 of 2 passes for no yards. Chase Harms was the only other player to record any yardage, piling up 55 yards on the ground on 13 attempts.
Leading by two scores with the conditions, Mitchell’s defense took over and the offense made sure not to make any mistakes.
The Kernels had turned the ball over 31 times on the season entering the game, but Mitchell did not give up the ball in Thursday’s win.
The defense was able to intercept two Huron passes and land on two fumbles, including a recovering by senior Brad Muller in the closing minutes to all but lock up the game.
“I didn’t even realize I had it,” Muller said. “But when I got up I was like, ‘We just won this football game.’ It was awesome, I don’t even know how else to describe it.”
Muller, a defensive lineman, also intercepted a pass in his final game with the Kernels.
The only mistakes with ball handling came on long snaps as Alex Herrick was unable to handle the hold on the team’s first point after touchdown attempt, and late in the game punter Nathan Wahlen struggled reeling in a snap, allowing the Tigers to block the kick.
For the night, Mitchell held Huron to just 134 total yards. The Tigers attempted eight passes but did not complete one. Hartman Katz led the team with 59 yards on the ground on 19 attempts.
“We just played real solid and we tackled better than we have all year,” VanOverschelde said.
Three seniors finished with double-digit tackles for Mitchell. Kirby Fuerst led the team with 15 tackles, Evan Mastel recorded 12 and Tyler Sipes had 10.
“Their game plan was similar to ours with just wanting to pound the ball and the defensive line did a great job of penetrating to the ball carrier,” VanOverschelde said.
“Everyone was swarming to the ball and everyone was playing well as a unit,” Fuerst said. “It was the first time we’ve really done that all year and it paid off.”
NOTES: Mitchell won the time of possession battle, having the ball for 30 minutes, 34 seconds compared to Huron’s time of 17:01 spent with the ball. … Huron’s Hartman Katz threw one ball on a halfback-pass attempt. It was intercepted by Mitchell’s Alex Herrick. … One pass was caught by the Tigers’ offense, but it was called back due to an ineligible receiver down the field as a lineman was caught running to block before the pass was completed. … Mitchell outgained Huron in total yards 250-134. The Kernels had 168 yards of offense in the first half and held Huron to 27 total yards before the break.
Mitchell 12, Huron 0
Mitchell 12 0 0 0 – 12
Huron 0 0 0 0 – 0
M: Matt Larson 1 run (pass failed)
M: Larson 67 run (pass failed)
Rushing: Mitchell: Mitch Johnson 26-105; Matt Larson 11-92; Chase Harms 13-57. Huron: Hartman Katz 19-59; Will Carr 9-55; Jeremiah Johnson 2-12; Tyler Kleinsasser 6-8; Brett Scotter 3-1.
Passing: Mitchell: Larson 1-2-0. Huron: Katz 0-1-1; Carr 0-7-1.
Receiving: Mitchell: Evan Mastel 1-0.
Defensive: Mitchell: Kirby Fuerst 15 tackles; Mastel 12 tackles; Tyler Sipes 10 tackles; Brad Muller 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception; Alex Herrick 1 interception.