A year after going to the wire, Kernels, Dell Rapids duel again
Mitchell High School’s gamble was Dell Rapids’ fortune when the two teams squared off last season.
The Kernels scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, and instead of kicking the extra point to tie, head coach Kent Van Overschelde rolled the dice on a go-ahead two-point conversion. The Quarriers held and stunned the Joe Quintal Field crowd with a 7-6 win.
Both teams enter this year’s matchup without a loss, with Class 11AA No. 4 Mitchell traveling to Class 11A No. 2 Dell Rapids looking for a bit of payback at 7 p.m. today.
Pounding defenses with Phillps
The offensive approach is not complicated for the Kernels. They do not have a deep playbook, instead focusing on attempting to perfect a handful of effective plays.
It is no secret that running back Parker Phillips will be the focal point of the offense, entering the game with 782 yards and 12 touchdowns on 14.5 yards per carry.
Quarterback runs with Tucker Vilhauer will be sprinkled in with the occasional passing play, but Phillips will undoubtedly be the bellcow back once again.
“It’s going to be trying to simplify and continuing to do the things we’ve been doing well,” Van Overschelde said. “Dell Rapids plays fast and aggressive. They made some big plays on offense and defense last week against Madison. But for us, it’s about simplifying.”
For Dell Rapids, stopping Phillips is a necessity, and the Quarriers found some success last season. Phillips ran for 111 yards on 28 attempts and the team’s lone touchdown, but Dell Rapids limited his explosive runs.
“Players are going to make plays and (Phillips) is a heck of a football player,” Dell Rapids head coach Jordan Huska said. “Throughout the course of the game, he’s going to make a play or two, but we can’t get too down on ourselves or get in our head if he pops something off.”
Discipline on defense
Dell Rapids will be the fourth consecutive game Mitchell will face a three-man defensive front, but the Kernels will see a unique offense from the Quarriers.
They run a double-wing, using option runs and misdirection, while spreading the ball around to running backs Coby Maeschen and Landon Ruesink. Dell Rapids has the ability to move into spread formations, but still run many of the same plays out if it.
The Quarriers’ offensive line is 20 pounds lighter than Mitchell’s defensive line on average, but the system is based on getting adequate blocking angles to help smaller teams combat a size disadvantage.
“It’s almost a change-up to people at this point because all the teams run spread,” Huska said. “It’s a little old school, but I like it. You can attack people in a variety of ways. It doesn’t set up to shut down one guy. There are multiple ways to attack a defense out of the formation that we’ve got.”
The Mitchell defense limited Spearfish to -10 rushing yards last week, but has shown vulnerability against big plays throughout the season.
The Kernels have given up an average of 293 yards per game, while surrendering two 100-yard rushers this season. Spearfish also managed to throw for 233 yards last week, while Sioux Falls Christian threw for 250 two weeks ago.
“Normally the pulling guards will lead you to the play,” Van Overschelde said, “but the quarterback (Austin) Henry does a good job of booting and knowing when to get the ball out to the perimeter. … Those guys do a good job of playing downhill and making plays.”