Mitchell High School typically doesn’t like to rely on one player in its rushing attack.
On Saturday, junior running back Parker Phillips carried a heavy workload, toting the ball 30 times for 209 yards and four touchdowns as the Kernels romped to a 56-27 season-opening win over Douglas at Joe Quintal Field.
Despite Phillips’ breakout performance, Mitchell managed to find some balance in the run game. The Kernels also saw Carter Jacobsen put forth an efficient night, rushing for 84 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries, providing an inside, outside attack.
“We have a good one-two punch there,” MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “Give credit to our fullback Nick Robinson. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. That was very effective for us.”
When Mitchell needed to dispatch Douglas for good after the lead was trimmed to 49-20 going into the fourth quarter, the Kernels called upon Phillips and he delivered.
But he was most successful on runs designed to hit the edge in an uptempo, no-huddle offense that wore on the Patriot defense. The 5-foot-7, 155-pound running back scored the first four touchdowns of the game as Mitchell scored on its first seven possessions and led 42-6 at halftime.
“I felt like it really helped on their linemen -- it tired them out,” Phillips said. “We’ve been working our butts off in practice, so our cardio was all right.”
Jacobsen, meanwhile, was quiet through the first quarter. But he was able to plunge into the end zone on a two-yard run in the second half and then dazzled the Kernel faithful on a 31-yard touchdown run.
It was a run that appeared stopped after a short gain, but Jacobsen managed to spring free from a pile of would-be Douglas tacklers and into the open field.
Even when the game was put into Phillips’ hands toward the end of the game, Jacobsen made the most of his touches, using his bruising inside style on a one-yard run to put Douglas away for good when Phillips left briefly with leg cramps.
“I got wrapped up and I felt my offensive lineman pushing behind me,” Jacobsen said of his long run. “(Douglas) must have thought a whistle was coming, because they started letting go and I started gaining speed. I just busted out of there for the touchdown.”
Quarterback Austin Kerr also had a hand in the run game, rushing for 55 yards on five attempts. Mitchell usually prefers two running backs to split carries, while sprinkling in quarterback runs and it was executed on point Saturday.
Lambert caps day with two wins in two sports and two time zones
As Mitchell was celebrating its win over Douglas on Saturday night, kicker Trevor Lambert was basking in his second win of the day against Douglas, in two sports and two time zones.
Lambert, of course, also serves as the goalkeeper for the Kernel soccer team, which squared off with Douglas/Rapid City Christian at 1 p.m. Central time in Rapid City.
After Mitchell picked up its first win of the season, 6-4, Lambert hopped on four-passenger charter plane rather than attempting to make the 285-mile drive before the football team kicked off at 7 p.m.
“My mom was the main person on that,” Lambert said. “She said, ‘I’m going to be that mom that gets you from Point A to Point B so you can do your stuff.’ ”
Lambert’s plane landed in Mitchell Municipal Airport at 5:30 p.m. and went straight to Joe Quintal Field.
He was a perfect 8-for-8 on extra point attempts, even thumping a couple of the video board for extra effect. The senior also handled all of the kickoff and punting duties for the Kernels and still wasn’t tired despite leaving the field at 10 p.m. on a day began at 5:30 a.m.
“(The two wins) made my whole year,” Lambert said.
Kernels establish Hinker as receiving threat
Mitchell did not ask Kerr to put the ball in the air often, but when he did, it was often sent in the direction of wide receiver Caden Hinker.
Playing in his first varsity game, Hinker made two catches for 29 yards, but Kerr targeted the 6-foot-6 sophomore receiver on five of his eight attempts, all designed to allow him to leap over the Douglas defender.
It also paid off on a corner fade that was thrown without hesitation and caught for a five-yard touchdown.
“When you have a guy that size, you have to take advantage by getting him the football,” VanOverschelde said. “I was happy with how competitive he was in going up and getting the ball. … That’s tough to defend.”
Mitchell (1-0) faces Sioux Falls Christian at 7 p.m. on Friday in Sioux Falls.