With the resignation of defensive coordinator Travis Carpenter, Mitchell High School turned to a familiar face.
As part of a reshuffling of the football coaching staff, Joe Kramer is set to make his return to the sidelines as offensive coordinator, a position he held from 2014 through 2016. In the final season of his first stint with the Kernels, Kramer's offense set program records for total offense, rushing offense and scoring en route to the Class 11AA state championship.
After taking two seasons off to spend with his family, Kramer could no longer resist the itch to coach and reached out to VanOverschelde, who decided it was time for a reunion and a new challenge as the defensive play caller.
"My wife and I are both retired and we had some traveling plans," Kramer said. "We did that for a couple years and we both decided that it would be good for me to get back in and keep myself busy doing something I really enjoy."
Not only did Kramer design the offense for a Mitchell offense that put up a record 45.1 points and 392.5 yards per game, but the 2015 team sits in second all-time in total offense.
Of course, those offenses were built around Mitchell's top-two all-time scoring leaders Spencer Neugebauer and Kanin Nelson. With the graduation of 11 starters, Kramer-who watched the program from afar the last two years-is looking to become increasingly more acquainted with his new charges and once again build an offense around their strengths.
"We're trying to maybe make a few different adjustments," Kramer said. "I think it's about trying to put together an offense that's going to be the best for your players. I'm fairly familiar with most of the players and I'm getting more familiar throughout the summer, so that's what I'm trying to do."
While the offense is in experienced hands, VanOverschelde is set to become a defensive play caller for the first time in his 13-year tenure with the Kernels. First-time tasks aren't new for him, however, as VanOverschelde spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator after serving solely as head coach during his first 10 years.
With a new challenge ahead, VanOverschelde feels refreshed after Mitchell went 4-6 last season, snapping a string of three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the playoff era began in 1981.
"I'm excited about it and very motivated," VanOverschelde said. "I learned a lot over the years watching other programs and what they did successfully and unsuccessfully against us. It is a new challenge and it has rejuvenated me in a lot of ways."
Mitchell also brought in former Dakota Wesleyan University defensive end Zack Clement to help coach the defensive line after spending last season as an assistant with Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central.
With the new additions to the staff, particularly Kramer, who owns the all-time wins record (70) at DWU, VanOverschelde feels he can rely on assistants and oversee the program more frequently. That was something he did previously when Kramer and Carpenter served as coordinators.
"It gives me an opportunity to focus on all the little things in the program," VanOverschelde said. "When I was the head coach and we had two coordinators, it worked well for me to handle everything in our program and not neglect any part of it. When I can lean heavily on guys, it just goes better."
Kramer is also looking forward to the chance to work with VanOverschelde once again, particularly after Mitchell totaled 21 wins during their first three-year campaign together.
"I was there a couple years ago and felt like that went pretty good," Kramer said. "We've always had a pretty good relationship. Coach Carpenter left a big void there and I think it's good that (VanOverschelde) wants to take over the defense. It kind of works out good. It was good timing that he was looking for coaches and I was anxious to come back."