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Mitchell football coach: 'We've had a positive offseason'

Kernel football practice is nine days away.

Entering his seventh year at the helm of the Mitchell High School football team, Kent VanOverschelde is looking to move beyond last year's one-win season in which the Kernels did not qualify for the playoffs.

In an question-and-answer session with The Daily Republic Tuesday, VanOverschelde said he believes the addition of a new weight room at Mitchell High has helped progress the school's football program for the immediate future and the long-term.

"We feel like we've made some strides," he said. "Going into the season, we hope we can be better from where we stopped last year."

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q: The first day of practice is Aug. 15. Are you anticipating the start of the season and excited to kick things off?

A: There's always that great anticipation. Football is always something to be excited for the beginning. As a program, we've had a positive offseason with the weight room and different camps and opportunities we've took advantage of. Right now is always the hard part. It's so close.

Q: Aug. 31 on the road against Yankton is the first game of the year. Do you and some of the players have that date circled on the calendar?

A: The seniors definitely have had that date on that calendar for some time now. It probably goes back to this last spring. From a year ago, we felt we improved throughout the year, and obviously with a lot of kids returning, we think we can get off to a good start and put together a productive season.

Q: You mentioned the senior class. How is this one different than past years? How would you describe them?

A: As a group, they have been steady in the program. From their freshmen to their sophomore years, I've really seen them come about in a commitment standpoint. It's a great bunch of young men that really enjoy playing football and playing it together.

Each year, there's a different dynamic to each group, but I'm looking forward to the leadership that's going to be provided by this group of seniors.

Q: Is it tough as a coach to get excited for a year after a one-win season?

A: No. I think what my process, coming out of that season a year ago, I knew we needed to do something within our program and our school to provide more opportunities to avoid those types of seasons.

Obviously with the work done by many people with the weight room, and the commitment by the coaches and this group of players, each year -- especially after a year like last year -- you do a lot of reflecting. That was my process, reflecting on different strengths and weaknesses in the program and try to do everything within our control to improve those weaknesses that we have.

Q: Then do you expect this year to be better as far as wins and losses?

A: I think it's not only motivation, but the feeling from a year ago, there's a certain amount of sense of urgency. We need to do these types of things to better ourselves.

We live and play in a game where records obviously count and people remember them. I think there's definitely been a core group on making an improvement. The effort program-wide will help us get off to a good start.