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Nelson staying 'consistent' while leading Kernel offense

It's been a good start to the season for Kiel Nelson.

In Nelson's first three games as the starting quarterback for the Mitchell Kernels, he's helped guide the team to three wins.

While he hasn't been the focal point of the offense, Nelson has simply done what has been asked of him.

For a quarterback, a player that touches the ball on nearly every offensive play, doing the simple motions correctly can be easier said than done.

"The thing I've been most satisfied with is his consistency," said Mitchell head coach Kent VanOverschelde, who named Nelson the starter over Chris Wahlen after Mitchell's 27-10 loss to Harrisburg in the first week of the season. "He's eager to learn and willing to ask questions."

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound sophomore had a rough start to his varsity career, throwing an interception on his first pass against Yankton on Sept. 2. Nelson quickly responded by throwing a touchdown pass on his next drive with the Kernels, but ended up throwing three interceptions against the Bucks.

"The first game, I started out pretty rocky but I've been getting more comfortable," Nelson said. "We've been establishing the running game well lately and we want to get the ball to (Spencer) Neugebauer and (Sam) Michels."

Nelson has completed 11 of 19 passes for 183 and three touchdowns in his first three games as the starter. His longest pass has been 36 yards and he's connected with five different receivers. Leading an offense that boasts a senior-led offensive line, Nelson said he's looking for ways to complement the Kernels' strong rushing attack. Mitchell is averaging more than 250 yards on the ground per game and only 52 yards per game through the air.

"We've been working hard in practice each week," Nelson said. "We're listening to what coach is telling us to do."

In Mitchell's 62-8 win over Sturgis last week, Nelson was able to break loose for a 20-yard run against the Scoopers. He was a perfect 5-for-5 passing for 64 yards and two touchdowns and said he hopes to continue to be a rushing threat as a quarterback.

"I've learned a lot and it's been fun," Nelson said. "Last week, I got to run the ball a little bit and I haven't done too much of that. I'll do whatever coach tells me to do to the best of my ability."

With the Kernels facing No. 5 Spearfish on Friday and Class 11AAA opponent Sioux Falls Lincoln the following week, Nelson is set to face some of his toughest tests as the starting quarterback.

Nelson and VanOverschelde both said Mitchell's offense, which is averaging 32.5 points per game, is working harder and harder each week to continue to improve. As the season progresses, the Kernel offense will continue to evolve along with its sophomore quarterback.

"With the performances he's put in, we're excited about where that's heading," VanOverschelde said. "The key is to stay healthy and continue to work to get better."

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