Kernel Film Room: Mitchell’s defensive stand shifts momentum in win against Douglas
The offense stole the show, but the defense changed the trajectory of the game in Mitchell High School’s 55-28 win over Douglas on Friday.
The Kernels kicked off to begin the second half, clinging to a 21-14 lead. The offense had scored on its final three possessions of the first half, but the defense had surrendered back-to-back 14-play touchdown drives to the Patriots and badly needed to swing the momentum.
Mitchell’s defensive line was up to the task, recording back-to-back sacks to force Douglas to punt in the shadows of its goal posts, setting up yet another touchdown drive. The Kernels gained a much-needed two-score cushion and the Patriots could not keep pace in the second half.
“This was definitely a way for our defense to set the tone and I was really happy at halftime,” MHS head coach Kent Van Overschelde said. “Our guys had their composure and they understood that they needed to shore a few things up. We made a few adjustments with getting those line stunts. Traditionally you don’t get those line stunts in right away, so it was nice to see execution of things we’ve been working on.”
Rubendall’s sack generates energy
After Adam Fahey came up with a first-down tackle, Douglas tried some misdirection on second down, but Mitchell’s defensive line was too quick and the play turned disastrous.
Patriot quarterback David Severson rolled to his right and 295-pound left guard Jason Maciejczak was tasked with pulling all the way across the right side of the line. Except left defensive end Nick Rubendall exploded off the ball, taking advantage of the slow-developing play and right tackle Garrett Jamison, who had already turned to block defensive tackle Ben Ziebarth.
Rubendall received little obstruction on his route into the backfield and by time Maciejczak reached his assignment, Severson was being slung to the ground for a 10-yard loss.
“It’s a good job by Nick Rubendall of using his hands,” Van Overschelde said. “Obviously it was a big play that gave us a lot of energy early in the second half that set the tone for us defensively.”
Interior penetration leads to sack
Rubendall’s sack set up a third-and-long from the Douglas 10-yard line, meaning the Patriots would need solid pass protection for routes to develop downfield. But Wyatt Winter blew up those plans, exploding off the ball from his right defensive tackle position and pushing his man back into Severson.
The pressure forced Severson to step to his right, directly into the path of Fahey, who had beaten his man after a well-timed stunt with Ziebarth on the left side of the defensive front. Fahey dropped Severson for another sack, setting up a punt from the 1-yard line.
“Penetration obviously is the key and having them in third and long gives our guys a great opportunity to turn it back and go get something done,” Van Overschelde said. “To get a play like that, where you stick them down on the 1-yard line, is obviously a great boost for any defense.”