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Nelson named Kernel quarterback

Mitchell starting quarterback Kanin Nelson rolls to the right looking for a wide receiver to throw to during an intrasquad Friday at Joe Quintal Field. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Kent VanOverschelde was quick to announce his starting quarterback.

Kanin Nelson will take the reins of the offense from last year’s starter junior Matt Larson. The The 6-foot-3 sophomore will lead the Kernels into their opening contest against Yankton at 7 p.m. on Aug 31.

“When coach told me I got it, it was a great feeling,” said Nelson, who took snaps last year but did not start at the position. “I have thought about it for a while, and I have been working hard to make sure I got it. ... We are busting our tails in practice and doing what we need to do to get better.”

Nelson took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage Friday at Joe Quintal Field. Junior Jacob Cersosimo also took snaps at the quarterback position on both the first- and second-team offense.

Larson, who started in all but one game last season at quarterback, played two downs at the position, which were run plays. The majority of the 6-foot junior’s time was spent at safety with the first-team defense and in the slot on offense.

“It doesn’t matter where I play. I will do whatever I can to help the team win,” Larson said. “I will play mostly defense, slot and a little bit of running back. I will kind of be moving around and Kanin will be under the center.

“It helps a lot to have us both out there because I know all the plays, and we can talk easier because we know where each other will be at.”

VanOverschelde said it was a tough decision to make, but it was made easier by Larson’s versatility on the field and Nelson’s progression at the quarterback position. VanOverschelde added that both guys are leaders on the team and having them both on offense will help the team this season.

“Basically, I looked at the overall contributions for what we want to do for our football team,” VanOverschelde said. “We went into camp last year with a lot of unknown, and Matt Larson did a great job for us. We are excited for Kanin to go out there and perform this year and lead our football team, and Matt will do a lot of things for us on both sides of the football and special teams this year.”

After going 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the Eastern South Dakota Conference, VanOverschelde and the Kernels are looking to take a big step forward in Class 11AA. The Kernels look to do that as eight schools moved out of Class 11AA after the formation of a Class 11AAA — which includes Sioux Falls O’Gorman, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Washington, Rapid City Stevens and Central, Brandon Valley and Aberdeen Central.

VanOverschelde said his team needs to pick up the pace this week as it prepares for its season opener.

“We want to practice at an upbeat tempo,” VanOverschelde said. “We had a few glimmers of that happening, but after reviewing what I saw here tonight it is a continuation of what I have been seeing. We need a little sense of urgency and we need to pay attention to details. Our team understands that and we just need to build on every opportunity we get.”