Mitchell hopes to avoid another season-ending loss to Pierre

Mitchell quarterback Tucker Vilhauer (16) avoids a diving tackle by Huron's Derick Siemonsma (88) during a game on Thursday at Joe Quintal Field. (Matt Gade / Republic)

For the second time in less than three weeks, Mitchell High School is headed to Pierre, this time with the season on the line.

After a 34-13 loss to Huron on Thursday, the Kernels are seeded sixth for the Class 11AA football playoffs, resulting in a date with No. 3 Pierre at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30. The Governors took the last outing, 48-20, on Oct. 16 and both teams are trending in opposite directions.

Mitchell has dropped six consecutive games after starting 3-0, while Pierre is 6-2 overall and 4-1 in its last five games following a 52-29 loss to Yankton on Sept. 11. The Kernels must find a way to put an end to their late-season woes or the season will end in Pierre for the second consecutive season.

“We have an opportunity in front of us and we’re going to do everything possible to go win a football game,” MHS head coach Kent Van Overschelde said. “Whatever that takes. We’re going to work today, work the weekend and get focused on continuing our season as long as we can.”

Mitchell has surrendered 481.8 yards per game during its last four contests, including 551 to Pierre. Most of that came from Governor running back Maguire Raske’s 271 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.


The Kernels also must find a way to remain consistent on offense throughout the game, as they have been outscored 91-25 in the second half during that four-game span.

“It’s on my shoulders as the head coach to give our guys opportunities,” Van Overschelde said. “We’re going to try not to make any drastic changes to what we’ve done as far as normalcy. We’re going to try to maintain an expectation of what we do and how we do it. I have a lot of trust in our football team. It comes back to why you started this in the beginning.”

Aside from extending the season, a win would also likely give Mitchell a much-desired return trip to Yankton in the semifinals. The Bucks scored the final 10 points to stun the Kernels 30-24 in overtime on Sept. 25.

Yankton is the No. 2 seed after suffering its first loss of the season to Brookings, 41-0, on Thursday and will now host Douglas in the first round.

“The key is to take our business first and focus on competing,” Van Overschelde said. “There’s opportunity out there if things fall our way. It’s not waiting for somebody to give us a break, we have to go control what we can control. From a competitor’s standpoint, you win and continue.”

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