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Kernels have tough challenge against Roosevelt

Mitchell lineman Mitch Morgan (56) blocks linebacker Luke Mauer (85) during practice Wednesday at the south field. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Mitchell high school football coach Kent VanOverschelde said this week’s game plan in simple: Keep Sioux Falls Roosevelt’s offense off the field.

To do that, junior running back Mitch Johnson, sophomore quarterback Kanin Nelson and the rest of the Kernel offense will have to have stellar games.

“Our kids understand the challenge in front of them,” said VanOverschelde, whose team plays the Class 11AAA’s No. 2 Rough Riders at 8 p.m. today at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls. “We would like to give every ounce of our effort. We have to come in there and be ready from the start, and we have to put together some series and stay on the field.”

In four games, Nelson has completed 27 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns and has also run for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson leads Class 11AA’s No. 3-ranked Kernels on the ground with 250 yards and four touchdowns.

Sioux Falls Roosevelt head coach Kim Nelson said his team wants to slow down Mitchell’s mix of the pass and run games.

“From what I have seen, they mix it up really well,” he said. “We want to make them one dimensional. They run the ball more than they throw, but they can do both. They have some good running backs and the quarterback is a talented kid.”

The fourth-year Rough Rider coach said the forecasted bad weather could turn the game into a battle of kickers. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be 57 degrees with east-southeast winds at 9 mph with an 80 percent chance of precipitation and chance of thunderstorms.

This season, the Roosevelt defense has allowed 1,217 yards in five games. Nelson said his defense has improved as the season has gone on and his offense has also done well up to this point.

Roosevelt’s offense led by dual-threat quarterback Taryn Christion. In five games, Christion has completed 75 passes for 1,030 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has 503 rushing yards for seven touchdowns.

“They are so explosive, whether it is their quarterback running the football or throwing it to their physical receivers,” said VanOverschelde said. “They can score very quickly and can put up a lot of points.”

Mitchell senior lineman Andrew Getty is excited about the chance to play the Class 11AAA’s No.2-ranked team. The Kernels are coming off a bye week, which has them rested and rejuvenated after going 3-1 in their first four games.

Sioux Falls Roosevelt is 4-1 this season with its only loss coming to Class 11AAA’s top-ranked Sioux Falls Lincoln on Sept. 13.

“For this group of seniors, it is the last time we get to go to Howard Wood and play football,” Getty said. “We are the underdog and we are looking to knock them off. A win would be great.”