Members of the Mitchell High School football team could not escape the chatter following a 75-7 loss to Pierre on Oct. 18.

The noise has escalated with a tilt with the top-seeded Governors looming on Friday, fresh off a historic 103-0 win over Spearfish in the Class 11AA quarterfinals. But since the Kernels began their playoff preparation a week ago, the mantra has been to extend the careers of the seniors. With the mortality of their prep football careers at stake, Mitchell is out to ensure it leaves Pierre with a performance to take pride in, win or lose.

“Sitting in some classes, there’s definitely some negativity saying we’re going to lose,” MHS senior offensive tackle Taylor Feterl said. “But as a team, we can’t listen to that. We need to keep moving forward with it.”

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As the score indicated, Pierre was the superior team in every facet of the game three weeks ago at Joe Quintal Field. But Mitchell felt it did not put forth its best performance, leading to a 55-0 halftime hole.

The sting of the loss rolled over into the ensuing game at Huron, which resulted in another loss that dropped the Kernels in the standings and resulted in this week’s matchup. Like any competitor, Mitchell aims to win the rematch, but players also want to prove they aren’t the same team that walked off the field three weeks prior.

“The ultimate goal is getting better throughout the practice week,” MHS senior linebacker Ryan McGinnis said. “Obviously we want to win, but it’s seeing how much better we can do from the last game to this game, what improvements we can make and just going all-out.”

Few around the state expect Pierre to fall short of winning the Class 11AA state championship in two weeks, and with good reason. The Governors have scored 40 points in all 10 games, at least 50 in the last eight, with three 70-point outings mixed in.

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Pierre has also allowed 13 points in its last four games and 66 for the season, winning by an average of 55.5 points per game. But Mitchell has its sights set on being the first team to stand toe-to-toe with the Governors.

“For the seniors, this could be our last game,” Feterl said, “but we’re going out there to show we’re the team that will go up against Pierre and put numbers on them. A lot of its playing for our team and it’s showing the underclassmen we have to stand up to a tough opponent.”

The underdog role is also nothing new for Mitchell, which entered the season with limited outside expectations.

“I feel like we’ve been the underdog this whole year,” MHS senior quarterback Austin Kerr said. “We were picked to be the sixth seed coming into the year, so we were kind of the underdog coming into the year anyways.”