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Mitchell to battle Yankton in 1st round of playoffs with something to prove

The Mitchell Kernels had something to prove in their season-opener Aug. 31 against the Yankton Bucks.

The Kernel football team hadn’t defeated the Bucks since 1987 and defeated Yankton 27-21 on the road.

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Exactly two months after the historical defeat, the teams meet again for the first round of the Class 11AA playoffs at 7 p.m. Thursday in Yankton.

Mitchell senior lineman Chase Klingaman said the team has something to prove again this time around.

“We have had a string of four losses and if we can come out and beat Yankton, we can show everyone what we are capable of doing,” he said.

The Kernels started the season 3-1 before dropping the last four games. Mitchell’s last win was against Spearfish, which didn’t make the playoffs, on Sept. 20. Mitchell fell to Huron in the final game of the regular season Thursday, sliding them from a home game and the fourth seed in the playoffs to the sixth seed.

Klingaman added Mitchell’s familiarity with Yankton should help the team in the second matchup.

The first time Mitchell and Yankton met, the Kernels were coming off a 1-8 season, in which Mitchell lost to the Bucks 40-0.

On Aug 31. Mitchell played arguably its best game of the 2013 campaign and beat Yankton 27-21. In that game, the Kernels forced three interceptions, while sophomore quarterback Kanin Nelson threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 65 yards.

After dropping their last four games of the regular season, the Kernels will again look to defy the odds.

One man not resting on the laurels of Mitchell’s early season win against Yankton is Kernel head coach Kent VanOverschelde.

“The season is about putting yourself in a position to win,” VanOverschelde said. “We beat them the first game of the season, but obviously we have progressed and they have progressed. I am interested to see where they have gone offensively.”

If Mitchell beats Yankton, it will move on to play No. 2 Watertown or No. 7 Douglas in the semifinal round Friday, Nov. 8. With a loss, Mitchell’s season comes to an end.

VanOverschelde said his team must play better in the playoffs than it did the second half of the season but is content with they are seeded.

“We look at the playoffs as a brand new season,” VanOverschelde said. “This is the best possible scenario. We had control of our own destiny and teams jumped us because of the losses. We are going to approach this as a great opportunity to go down to Yankton and play our best football.”