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Championship rematch: Mitchell ready for Harrisburg

For the Mitchell High School football team, there's no better time to put together a complete performance than in a rematch of last year's Class 11AA state championship.

Defensive Coordinator Travis Carpenter talks to his defense in a timeout during a game on Saturday night at Joe Quintal Field. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Defensive Coordinator Travis Carpenter talks to his defense in a timeout during a game on earlier this year at Joe Quintal Field. (Matt Gade / Republic)

For the Mitchell High School football team, there's no better time to put together a complete performance than in a rematch of last year's Class 11AA state championship.

The No. 2-ranked Kernels, who saw their 14-game win streak against Class 11AA opponents snapped in a 14-7 loss to Pierre last week, are focused on playing their best football against No. 3 Harrisburg (4-3) at 7 p.m. today in Harrisburg.

As MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde pointed out before last week's game against Pierre, Mitchell has yet to play its best game of the season. He said he's looking for the Kernels to play a full 48 minutes of mistake-free, turnover-free football and he hopes it comes against the Tigers this week.

"I'm waiting for it. A full and complete practice and a full and complete game. We know what we are capable of," VanOverschelde said. "We have to play with our eyes up, we'll have to grind it a little bit and find some big plays."

Mitchell (5-2) will look to get back to winning the line of scrimmage and establishing its run-heavy offense to control the tempo of the game. The Kernels are averaging 232 rushing yards per game and they've scored 16 of their 20 total touchdowns on the ground.

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"We need our best game right now, because going into Harrisburg is a tough environment to play as a visiting team," said quarterback Kiel Nelson, who has 404 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while passing for 389 yards and four more touchdowns. "We want to run the ball and I think we'll be able to. Everyone just has to show up ready to go."

Junior fullback Carson Max, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, is slated to return and should bolster Mitchell's offensive attack. Max has 378 yards rushing and has scored five touchdowns (four rushing and one receiving) in four games played this season.

Standing in Mitchell's way will be the Harrisburg defense, which held Brookings to 17 yards rushing in a 41-0 victory last week. The Tigers lost three out of their first four games, but have won three straight games entering today's contest.

Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said his team was plagued by injuries early in the season but is starting to get healthier.

"We are starting to click because we are getting our athletes back," White said. "Mitchell has a lot of weapons and we have to be ready for each one of them. We have to limit their big plays, be assignment sharp and use every hat we have to slow the run game."

The Tigers will be without injured quarterback Hunter Headlee, but the Tigers feature a top running back in Jack Anderson, who picked up 124 yards on nine carries with three touchdowns last week.

"He runs violently," VanOverschelde said about Anderson. "We have to get to him early and get him in the backfield, while he's going east and west."

Mitchell's defense has held opponents to an average of 17 points per game. Briggs Havlik leads the defense with 45 tackles, while Max Schoenfelder has 41 tackles and D.J. Krogman has 35 tackles, five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

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"We can scheme up all we want, but it's going to come down to our guys against theirs," VanOverschelde said. "Our goal is to be ready when the ball is kicked off. If we eliminate some turnovers, we're in a lot better shape. That'll be a big key."

No. 2 Mitchell Kernels (5-2) at No. 3 Harrisburg Tigers (4-3)

When/Where: 7 p.m. today in Harrisburg.

Last meeting: Mitchell defeated Harrisburg 41-6 in the Class 11AA championship on Nov. 11, 2016

Coaches: Mitchell's Kent VanOverschelde, 11th year; Harrisburg's Brandon White, eighth year.

Forecast: 53 degrees and clear with a east to northeast wind at 6 mph.

Notes: The Kernels are ranked No. 2 in the latest South Dakota Prep Media football poll and are No. 2 in Class 11AA seed points with 42.143. Pierre is first with 42.857 seed points and Harrisburg is third with 40.143 seed points. ... Mitchell saw its 14-game win streak against Class 11AA opponents snapped last week in a 14-7 loss to Pierre. ... Harrisburg enters today's game ranked No. 3 in the poll and the Tigers won at Brookings 41-0 last week. Today's game is a rematch of last year's Class 11AA championship, which the Kernels won 41-6. Harrisburg last beat Mitchell 27-10 in the season opener last year on Aug. 27, 2016 in Mitchell.

Mitchell projected starters

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(Position, name, year, height, weight)

Offense

QB: Kiel Nelson, 11, 6-3, 195
FB: Carson Max, 11, 6-0, 195

RB: Drew Kitchens, 11, 5-6, 155

WR: Koby Larson, 11, 5-11, 160

WR: Miles Rolle, 12, 5-7, 155

TE: Zach Mohr, 11, 6-0, 205

T: Tegan Alm, 11, 6-7, 220

G: Lane Jorgensen, 12, 5-11, 225

C: Carter Max, 11, 5-11, 205

G: Reese Sievert, 11, 6-2, 220

T: Mitch Schladweiler, 11, 6-4, 280

Defense

DE: D.J. Krogman, 12, 6-0, 175

DT: Levi Winne, 11, 6-0, 195

DT: Gregory Guthrie, 12, 5-10, 230

DE: Dylan Krogman, 11, 6-1, 175

LB: Briggs Havlik, 12, 5-10, 165

LB: Carson Max, 11, 6-0, 195

LB: Max Schoenfelder, 11, 5-11, 195

LB: Logan Sparks, 11, 5-8, 150

DB: Jarod Uher, 12, 5-11, 155

DB: Jordan Dirkes, 12, 5-8, 145

DB: Austin Kerr, 10, 5-9, 160

Special teams:

K: Trevor Lambert, 10, 5-9, 175

P: Kiel Nelson, 11, 6-3, 195

LS: Reese Sievert, 11, 6-2, 220

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