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Kernels prepare for first ever meeting with Harrisburg tonight

Mitchell junior Ben Miller, left, and senior Keenan Shannon, right, participate in a drill Wednesday during practice on the field south of Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

After a victory in the opening week of the regular season, the Mitchell High School football team is back to business.

"It was a nice victory to start off the season, but you enjoy it and move onto the next opponent," said Mitchell head coach Kent VanOverschelde, whose team defeated Yankton for the first time since 1987 Saturday. "And we've got a tough one again this week."

The No. 3-ranked Kernels (1-0) prepared this week for their first-ever meeting against Eastern South Dakota Conference newcomer Harrisburg. Mitchell hosts the Tigers in its home opener at 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field.

Harrisburg, who played in Class A last season, started the season with a win over Sturgis. Head coach Brandon White said it was a big deal to get an early victory at the new level, and the Tigers are ready for their first conference matchup.

"We're a very young team so anytime you can get a win, it builds confidence in the kids and coaches," White said. " ... We're extremely excited to have the opportunity to play in the ESD. The kids don't know what that means to be in a superior conference like this, and we keep reiterating it to them."

Mitchell senior Nathan Wahlen said the team is motivated to get to 2-0 on the season and has approached this week's practices with intensity.

"We're just trying to keep up the tempo, raise the bar and keep working hard," he said. " ... We're going to have to outlast them and basically play as hard as we can."

Both teams use a pistol-spread offense led by first-year quarterbacks. First for Mitchell, Kanin Nelson completed 5 for 9 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in his first start. Nelson's five completions were to four different receivers -- juniors Matt Larson, Beau Brown, Landon Neugebauer and Tyler Larson.

With the success of the pass game last week, VanOverschelde said it's still not the go-to play for the Kernels.

"We'll focus on the run game and hopefully, that opens up a passing opportunity," he said. "But within the offense, we're going to take what they give us. We're going to try to adjust and adapt to what they're doing defensively."

Nelson is Mitchell's top rusher with 65 yards on 13 carries, while junior running back Mitch Johnson isn't far behind with 63 yards on 23 carries.

"We'll be focused on both (Mitchell's pass and run games)," White said. "(Nelson) is very mobile and we've got to key on the run between him and (Johnson). If our front seven have control of their run, we can be successful."

Tigers' junior quarterback Shaye Slaughter helped Harrisburg score the lone touchdown of its season opener, and he was 7-for-18 in passing for 68 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers' leading receiver is senior Adam Holmstrom, who had three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown last week.

Christian Trainor leads Harrisburg's rush attack with 74 yards on 12 carries this season. Holmstrom and junior Jonathan Kabambi also took carries and totalled 52 and 69 yards, respectively.

"Their offensive line is probably their biggest asset," VanOverschelde said of the Tigers. "They do a nice job up front and we're going to have to get passed them and contain their quarterback. He appears to be evasive and sometimes all you need is a little time to get to the receivers.

"We're just going to have to play good, solid defense and continue to tackle."

Mitchell (1-0) vs. Harrisburg (1-0)

When/Where: 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

Last meeting: This is the first-ever varsity meeting.

Coaches: Mitchell's Kent VanOverschelde, seventh year; Harrisburg's Brandon White, fourth year.

Forecast: 92 degrees and clear at kickoff with south wind at 8 mph. There's a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Game notes: The Kernels defeated Yankton Saturday for the first time since 1987. Mitchell won the season-opener 27-21, snapping the Bucks' 29-game win streak over the Kernels. ... Mitchell jumped to No. 3 in the South Dakota Sportswriters Association poll this week. In the preseason poll, the Kernels received votes. Harrisburg was the fifth-ranked team in the preseason poll but was bumped out of the top five after the first week of the regular season. ... Today's contest is Harrisburg's first-ever Eastern South Dakota Conference matchup. ... Mitchell wide receiver Beau Brown was practicing Wednesday without pads and had a knee brace on. Brown is still in the starting lineup despite the "knee issue" ... Matt Larson leads Mitchell defensively with 13 tackles and an interception, and senior Jon Jamison has six tackles and a sack after one game. ... The Kernels had three interceptions last game, which were all in the first half. ... The Kernels had 245 yards of total offense in its first game. ... Mitchell's senior kicker Hakon Gustafson Gimrer was 3-for-4 in field-goal attempts Saturday. ... Last week, Harrisburg racked up 177 rushing yards on 47 attempts.

Mitchell projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight

QB: Kanin Nelson, sophomore, 6-3, 185

RB: Mitch Johnson, junior, 5-9, 185

WR: Beau Brown, junior, 6-1, 160

WR: Nate Wahlen, senior, 6-2, 165

WR: Landon Neugebauer, junior, 6-0, 160

TE: Tyler Larson, junior, 6-2, 190

TE: Ethan Jones, senior, 6-0, 180

LT: Mitch Morgan, senior, 6-5, 200

LG: Preston Skinner, senior, 185

C: Andrew Getty, senior, 6-0, 220

RG: Chandler Nelson, junior, 6-3, 225

RT: Dylanger Pierson, senior, 6-4, 265


DL: Robert McCardle, junior, 6-0, 240

DL: Riley Heck, junior, 5-9, 215

DL: Chase Klingaman, senior, 6-1, 240

LB: Mitch Johnson, junior, 6-1, 185

LB: Micah Hettinger, senior, 5-9, 185

LB: Jon Jamison, senior, 6-2, 175

LB: Tyler Larson, junior, 6-2, 180

DB: Chase Harms, senior, 5-10, 155

DB: Matt Larson, junior, 5-11,165

DB: Alex Herrick, senior, 5-11, 165

DB: Keenan Shannon, senior, 5-11, 165

Special Teams

K: Hakon Gustafson Gimrer, senior, 5-11, 140

P: Nathan Wahlen, senior, 6-1, 150

Harrisburg projected starters

Position: Name, year, height, weight

QB: Shaye Slaughter, junior, 6-3, 180

RB: Jonathan Kabambi, junior, 5-11, 205

FB: Adam Holmstrom, senior, 6-1, 185

WR: Cody Berkhof, senior, 5-11, 155

WR: Hunter Christensen, senior, 5-10, 165

TE: Aiden Miller, senior, 6-5, 210

LT: Cody Cook, junior, 6-2, 230

LG: Nick Hertel, junior, 5-11, 240

C: Matt Schirado, junior, 6-0, 220

RG: Cade Berry, senior, 6-1, 210

RT: Ethan Roth, sophomore, 6-3, 240


DL: Aiden Miller, senior, 6-5, 210

DL: Nick Hertel, junior, 5-11, 240

DL: Vasiliy Stefanyuk, junior, 6-1, 240

LB: Patrick Wiebers, junior, 5-11, 195

LB: Christian Trainor, senior, 6-0, 210

LB: Adam Holmstrom, senior, 6-1, 185

LB: Lukas Johnson, junior, 6-1, 190

DB: Clay Miller, junior, 6-1, 165

DB: Bailey Schriever, junior, 6-1, 145

DB: Hunter Christensen, senior, 5-10, 165

DB: Paul Johnson, junior, 6-1, 200

Special Teams

K: Clay Miller, junior, 6-1, 165

P: Tyler Thill, senior, 6-1, 190

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.