Mitchell High School decided to roll with the hot hand.
The hot hand against Douglas on Saturday at Joe Quintal Field belonged to running back Parker Phillips and the Kernels rode him often in the season opener.
The 5-foot-7, 155-pound junior carried the ball 30 times, racking up 209 yards and scoring the first four touchdowns of the game to lead Mitchell past Douglas, 56-27.
“We’re in a situation where if we get a guy with some momentum, we’re going to ride him,” MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “Parker has one the things he needed to do. He’s been in the weight room, he was out for tack, he worked his tail off and it was no surprise to me what he was able to do for our football team tonight.”
Phillips’ running style fit Mitchell’s offensive game plan all night, deploying an up-tempo, no-huddle attack from the opening kickoff. The Kernels marched down field on their first drive, capping off a 72-yard drive that lasted less than three minutes with a three-yard Phillips run.
Douglas attempted to keep pace on the ensuing possession as Anthony Ramsey connected with David Severson on a 64-yard touchdown pass, but Mitchell was able to clamp down defensively, while scoring on its first seven possessions of the game.
As Mitchell went into the locker room at halftime up 42-6, Phillips had already rushed for 116 yards, eclipsing last year’s season total of 71 in 24 minutes.
“In years before, I would always run the sweeps,” Phillips said. “When we did the tosses and stuff, that really helped me out. I feel like I can read the blocks a little bit better.”
When Austin Kerr found 6-foot-6 wide receiver Caden Hinker on a corner fade for a five-yard touchdown with 5:51 left in the third quarter, it appeared the game was headed for an early ending via the 50-point rule.
As the Kernels began to substitute their second-team offense and defense into the game, the Patriots capitalized in less than three minutes on a Tyler Clark touchdown run.
On Mitchell’s first play with a back up quarterback and center, Douglas recovered a muffed snap and Ramsey hit Jaiden Walton for a 26-yard scoring strike to put up 14 points in 24 seconds.
VanOverschelde went back to his first-teamers and decided it was time to put the ball in Philips’ hands.
After stopping Douglas on fourth down near midfield, Mitchell went to Phillips repeatedly, and when he left the game briefly due to cramps, Carter Jacobsen finished the drive with a one-yard run to cement the win.
“We’re not flying to the football and hitting guys,” Douglas head coach Dan Maciejczak said. “(Mitchell is) juking and running us over and running around us. I don’t know if we’re just thinking too much, but they’re a good football team and hats off to them.”
Douglas was able to score with six seconds left on the clock on a Ramsey keeper, but the Mitchell first-team defense held Douglas to 223 yards of total offense and six points when it was on the field.
Linebackers Joe VanOverschelde and Nick Robinson led the charge with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively, with both make three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
“I was most impressed with how we bounced back (from the early touchdown),” VanOverschelde said. “That’s a mark of a team that’s going in the right direction.”
Jacobsen finished with 84 yards and three touchdowns on 10 attempts, while Kerr was 5 of 8 passing for 47 yards, while rushing for 55 yards on five attempts.
Mitchell (1-0) travels to Sioux Falls Christian at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Clark ran for 167 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, while Ramsey was 7 of 11 for 154 yards and two touchdowns for Douglas (0-1), which hosts Belle Fourche on Friday in Box Elder.
For more coverage of this game, pick up a copy of Tuesday's edition of The Daily Republic
M: Parker Phillips 3 run (Trevor Lambert kick)
D: David Severson 64 pass from Anthony Ramsey (Kick failed)
M: Phillips 31 run (Lambert kick)
M: Phillips 11 run (Lambert kick)
M: Phillips 3 run (Lambert kick)
M: Carter Jacobsen 2 run (Lambert kick)
M: Jacobsen 31 run (Lambert kick)
M: Caden Hinker 5 pass from Austin Kerr (Lambert kick)
D: Tyler Clark 2 run (Run failed)
D: Jaiden Walton 26 pass from Ramsey (Ramsey run)
M: Jacobsen 1 run (Lambert kick)
D: Ramsey 15 run (Severson kick)
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): M: Parker Phillips 30-209, Carter Jacobsen 10-84, Austin Kerr 5-55, Peyton Nash 1-3, Team 1-(-1), Tucker Vilhauer 1-(-7); D: Tyler Clark 31-167, Anthony Ramsey 13-30, Daniel Gleason 2-13, David Severson 5-10, Trajan Wise Spirit 1-3, John Updike 1-1, Jaiden Walton 1-(-1), Payton DeWitt 1-(-3).
PASSING (C-A-INT-YDS): M: Kerr 5-8-0-47; D: Ramsey 7-11-0-154.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): M: Jacobsen 3-18, Caden Hinker 2-29; D: Walton 3-46, Kalen Steczkowski 2-23, Severson 1-64, Clark 1-21.