The Class 11AA No. 5 seed Mitchell High School football team opens the postseason with a rematch against a familiar Eastern South Dakota Conference foe in the No. 4 seed Yankton Bucks. Here’s what to know ahead of the contest:
7 p.m. Thursday
Crane-Youngworth Field in Yankton
Mitchell 3-6; Yankton 5-4.
Yankton won 45-0 on Oct. 1, 2021, in Mitchell.
Both teams were in action on Oct. 21, 2021, with Mitchell earning a 21-20 overtime win over Huron on the road win, as Yankton took its own road victory, defeating Watertown, 20-13.
Mitchell received eight votes in the most recent and final South Dakota Prep Media poll after defeating Huron and was three behind Watertown for the fifth spot. Yankton has appeared in the top-five of every media poll this season and held the fourth spot in the rankings since Sept. 27.
As Thursday marks the beginning of Class 11AA playoffs, the winner of the contest will progress to the semifinals against the winner of No. 1 Tea Area and No. 8 Sturgis.
Mitchell faced the most-difficult schedule in Class 11AA this season while Yankton ranks eighth out of the 11 teams in the class, as opponents have combined winning percentages of .593 and .444, respectively.
Yankton has won the past two meetings in the series, including a 30-24 overtime win when the teams last played at Crane-Youngworth Field on Sept. 25, 2020.
About the Kernels:
Josh Grosdidier has been the focal point of the Mitchell offense during its two-game win streak. The senior running back recorded 408 yards and four touchdowns combined against Watertown and Huron, setting back-to-back career-highs in yards and carries in the process. Grosdidier has 895 rushing yards and six touchdowns for the season. He scored all four Kernel touchdowns in Yankton last season, and had 86 yards on 15 carries in the first meeting this season.
In the first game against the Bucks, Mitchell was limited to 163 total yards, but the Kernels have racked up 332 and 349 yards the past two weeks. For the season, Mitchell is averaging 282.6 yards per game, nearly 71 percent of which is coming on the ground. Yankton’s defense surrenders an average of 293 yards per contest, 153 on the ground and 140 through the air.
The Kernels exposed a new lineup against Huron where Joseph VanOverschelde, normally the starting fullback, played offensive guard, and Jake Helleloid lined up at fullback. Coach Kent VanOverschelde said he was looking for more physicality, and getting VanOverschelde and Helleloid on the field at the same time fulfills that aim.
Mitchell is 2-2 on the road this season, its wins coming against No. 5 Watertown and Huron. The Kernels’ away losses came against No. 3 Pierre and No. 2 Brookings.
About the Bucks:
Yankton enters the playoffs having won three of its last four, including the Oct. 1 win over Mitchell. The Bucks’ lone loss in that span came on the road against No. 2-seeded Brookings.
Yankton fields a balanced offense averaging 176 rushing yards and 182 passing yards per contest. On average, the Mitchell defense gives up 170 rushing yards and 159 passing yards per game.
In the first meeting, Rugby Ryken completed 12 of 17 passes for 112 yards and four touchdowns, while Gavin Swanson had 20 carries for 82 yards.
The Bucks scored 28 points in less than five minutes at the end of the first half in the first meeting, seizing control of the game.
Yankton is 3-2 at home, having defeated Huron, Spearfish and Sturgis at Crane-Youngworth Field. The Bucks’ home losses came against No. 3 Pierre and Class 11AAA’s Sioux Falls Jefferson.
Next: Thursday night is a win-or-go-home scenario, with the winner advancing to the semifinal round, which takes place on Friday, Nov. 5.