MHS football program sending six players to college level
There's been plenty of years where the Mitchell High School football team wouldn't have any players go on to play college football.
Recently, that trend is starting to turn, as more Kernels have been making the jump from high school football to the college game.
This year, six members of the 2016 MHS football team will be playing football at the college level, which is the most in head coach Kent VanOverschelde's 10 seasons.
After helping the Kernels claim their first playoff-era state championship, Spencer Neugebauer, Alex Klingaman, Bryce Geraets, Cody Reichelt and Seth Paulson will continue their football careers at Dakota Wesleyan University, while Trevor Harms signed with Dakota State University.
"The credit goes to the student-athletes for their focus on academics and it's a testament to the passion they've had for playing football," VanOverschelde said. "For our football program, it shows this group of players has developed a culture surrounding football. There's always a correlation between academics and athletics and there's no better way to demonstrate that than being able to sign a letter of intent to play football at a higher level."
It's unique that five Kernels will continue to play together on the same team in college at DWU, but VanOverschelde added his players have noticed what DWU has done in recent years. The Tigers have put together five straight winning seasons in head coach Ross Cimpl's first five seasons, including a 9-2 season in 2015 and 8-3 record last year.
"It's a mark of where Dakota Wesleyan, Ross Cimpl and his staff are headed," VanOverschelde said. "For five of our athletes to make that choice shows they have been paying attention like everybody else with the direction of Dakota Wesleyan football."
This year's class continues the trend for Kernel football players choosing to play college football. Last year, Kanin Nelson joined South Dakota State, while the Class of 2015 had Mitch Johnson and Tyler Larson join DWU and University of Sioux Falls, respectively. Larson has since transferred to DWU.
Before this year's class of six players joining the college football ranks, VanOverschelde pointed out the Class of 2012 as setting the bar. Justin and Jason Greenway went on the play college football at Augustana University, Dalton Wangerin played for Northern State University and Dylan Hart played junior college football at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
"Those guys broke the path and demonstrated that it was possible," VanOverschelde said. "Once you break that barrier, everybody sees that as a challenge but also a possibility that they could join that elite group that plays college football."
This season, Kernel soccer player Luke Novak has also signed on to play football at DWU.