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Kernels have winning record at homecoming in last 11 years

In the last 10 years, the Mitchell Kernels came out a .500 football team when playing in homecoming games.

That changed Friday night when No. 4 Mitchell defeated the Spearfish Spartans 34-7 at Joe Quintal Field. The Kernels are now 6-5 in homecoming performances since 2003.

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Friday’s win snapped a two-year losing streak during homecoming. Rapid City Central defeated the Kernels last season 33-21, and Brandon Valley spoiled the 2011 homecoming game with a 14-8 win at Joe Quintal Field.

Since 2003, Mitchell has racked up homecoming victories against Aberdeen Central in 2010, Watertown in 2009, Brookings in 2007, Huron in 2006 and Brandon Valley in 2003.

Mitchell head coach Kent VanOverschelde, who is in his seventh year at the helm of the Kernels, said his most memorable homecoming win since he took over the program was in 2007.

Against Brookings that season, the Kernels trailed 20-14 in the fourth quarter. Mitchell put together a drive ending in a 2-yard touchdown run by Alex Loes to tie the score and Jason Schmidt kicked the extra point to go ahead 21-20.

“We had some big plays and kicked the PAT at the end to win,” VanOverschelde said. “All homecoming games are pretty memorable in some respect.”

In the last 11 homecoming contests, Mitchell has only hosted the same team once. Brandon Valley was scheduled to play the Kernels in their homecoming game in 2011 and 2003 — with the series going 1-1.

VanOverschelde said the opponent differs from year to year based on scheduling of homecoming week.

“It’s nice to have a new opponent every year,” he said. “Homecoming is just an exciting week overall and to have a different team lineup across from us almost every year makes it exciting for the players and community.

“There’s some added pressure for homecoming because obviously the kids want to do very well and be successful. It’s an exciting time and I think at Mitchell High School that homecoming has become a pretty special event.”

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