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Kernels eager for first win

Kent VanOverschelde has witnessed his team improve after each game this season.

Now, the Mitchell High School football coach wants to see his team's steady improvements equate to wins.

"As a coaching staff, we feel that we're so close to that overall execution that we're looking for," VanOverschelde said. "We feel like that we're gaining ground and improving."

Mitchell (0-2), ranked No. 5 in Class 11AA, takes on Class 11AAA and Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Watertown at 7 p.m. tonight at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

The Kernels are coming off a strong showing last week against No. 1 Yankton. Mitchell fell to the defending state champion Bucks 21-14 in Yankton.

"Our players are staying positive," VanOverschelde said. "After starting 0-2, there's only two directions you can go and I believe we're going to go in a positive direction."

Last year, Mitchell rallied the fourth quarter to comeback and beat the Arrows 22-19 in Mitchell.

Watertown head coach John Hodorff said the Arrows (0-2) returned only a few starters from last year's team.

"We need to work on the run game and we have to figure out a way to run the ball at some point this year," said Hodorff, whose team fell to Brandon Valley 46-12 last week and Pierre 28-27 in two overtimes in the first game of the season. "Other than that, we just have to wrap up, block and tackle like everybody else."

Allowing big plays on defense has hurt the Kernels in both losses this season, but VanOverschelde said those big plays can be stopped. Mitchell has allowed scores of 90-yards, 61-yards and 26-yards in games against the Tigers and Bucks.

"Our mistakes on big plays came down to mental mistakes," VanOverschelde said. "We first need to understand what mistake was made, but we also need to get on the field and get those repetitions on proper alignment, understanding the call and having communication across both sides of the ball."

The Arrows like to operate in a spread offense and VanOverschelde expects Watertown to throw the ball frequently. Slowing down Watertown's quarterback Alex Gauer and his favorite target—wide receiver Nate Davis—will be a high priority for the Kernels, he said.

"He's a great athlete and he likes to throw on the run but can throw from the pocket as well," VanOverschelde said. "We want to force him into some bad situations and force some mistakes."

Offensively, the Kernels will look to use the one-two combination of senior quarterback Kanin Nelson and junior running back Spencer Neugebauer. Neugebauer leads the team with 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Nelson has completed 13-of-32 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown.

"We want to find some balance between our run and pass," VanOverschelde said. "We need to string drives together and build some momentum. I think if we can play with a lead, it'll help us find that momentum we need."

Junior left guard Bryce Geraets said the Kernels are excited to play their first home game of the season.

"We've gained a lot of experience in our first two games," Geraets said. "We're working hard in practice and playing at home will get us jacked up."

When/Where: 7 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

Last meeting: The Kernels defeated Watertown 22-19 on Oct. 19, 2014 in Mitchell.

Coaches: Mitchell's Kent VanOverschelde, ninth year; Watertown's John Hodorff, second year.

Forecast: 61 degrees and partly cloudy at kickoff with a north wind of 5 mph.

Notes: The game serves as the Kernels' home opener and the Kernels will make it two home games in a row next week against Sturgis. ... Mitchell has been outscored 51-21 this season and the Kernels have recorded 337 yards of offense and allowed 740 yards in two games. ... Senior linebacker Jet-Li Heng suffered an injury against Yankton last week and will be questionable for today's game against Watertown. ... A moment of silence will be held for the memory of Robin Ackman before the game. Ackman, a 1972 MHS graduate, starred on the Mitchell football team and organized the chain gain crews for football games at Joe Quintal Field. Ackman died on Aug. 18.

Mitchell projected starters

(Position, name, year, height, weight)

Offense

QB: Kanin Nelson, 12, 6-4, 210

FB: Spencer Neugebauer, 11, 6-1, 180

FB: Austin Getty, 12, 5-7, 165

WR: Justin Syring, 12, 6-1, 175

WR: Reed Overweg, 11, 6-1, 170

TE: Conner Morgan, 12, 6-3, 190

RT: Spencer Mohr, 11, 6-3, 230

RG: Zeb Parsons, 11, 5-9, 220

C: Alex Klingaman, 11, 6-0, 195

LG: Bryce Geraets, 11, 6-2, 240

LT: Chris Corbett, 11, 6-3, 299

Defense

DT: Myles Horton, 11, 6-0, 230

DT: Michael Horton, 11, 6-2, 235

DE: Bryce Geraets, 11, 6-2, 240

DE: Jet-Li Heng, 12, 5-10, 200

LB: Austin Getty, 12, 5-7, 165

LB: Cody Reichelt, 11, 6-1, 180

OLB: Spencer Neugebauer, 11, 6-1, 180

OLB: Brandon Krogman, 12, 6-0, 165

S: Conner Morgan, 12, 6-3, 19

CB: Reed Overweg, 11, 6-1, 170

CB: Sam Michels, 11, 6-0, 160

Special teams

K/P: Kanin Nelson, 12, 6-4, 210

Holder: Reed Overweg, 11, 6-1, 170

Long snapper: Spencer Mohr, 11, 6-3, 230

Watertown projected starters

(Position, name, year, height, weight)

Offense

QB: Alex Gauer, 11, 5-11, 175

RB: Ezekiel Gutierrez, 5-6, 167

RB: Shane Gonnelly, 11, 5-11, 195

WR: Bailey Van Sickle 12, 6-2, 150

WR: Nate Davis 12, 6-0, 158

TE: Noah Shawd 12, 6-0, 195

T: Spencer Waege 11, 6-5, 215

T: Bryce LeBlanc 12, 6-3, 232

C: Jon Sheehan 11, 5-7, 217

G: Grant Gonsor 12, 5-11, 217

G: Austin Stahlke 11, 5-10, 213

Defense

DT: Bryce LeBlanc 12, 6-3, 232

DT: Marcus Heggelund 12, 6-2, 177

DE: Dane Stahl 10, 5-11, 267

DE: Spencer Waege 11, 6-5, 215

LB: Parker Schulz 11, 5-11, 168

LB: Noah Shawd 12, 6-0, 195

LB: Micheal Turbak 12, 6-0, 182

CB: Nate Davis 12, 6-0, 158

CB: Taylor Ragles 12, 5-5, 140

S: Wyatt Determan 12, 5-10 164

S: Brent Schulte 12, 6-3, 179

Special teams

K: Blake Mitchel 10, 5-9, 152

P: Blake Mitchel 10, 5-9, 152

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