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Kernel Gameday: Mitchell football aims for first road win of the season at Aberdeen Central

The Kernels are 1-2 and ranked fifth in Class 11AA ahead of their first road matchup with Aberdeen Central since 2011.

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Mitchell's Lukas Bennett carries the football during the Kernel Bowl game against Sturgis on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Joe Quintal Field.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — The Mitchell High School football team is on the road again for their second away contest of 2022, this time traveling north to Aberdeen, a trip the Kernels football program hasn't made since 2011.

Here’s what to know ahead of the contest:

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Golden Eagle Field at the Brownell Activities Complex

Records: Mitchell 1-2; Aberdeen Central 0-3.

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Last meeting: Mitchell hosted Aberdeen Central for the 2021 Kernel Bowl, with the Golden Eagles using a fast start to notch a 33-14 win in that contest.

Series history: Prior to last season's meeting, the two schools hadn't met since 2012 due in large part to Aberdeen Central moving to Class 11AAA when the division was created in 2013 (it moved back to 11AA last season). Mitchell's last trip to Aberdeen came during the 2011 regular season, a 32-13 Kernel win. Mitchell also won, 42-14, in the 2011 playoffs but fell, 21-19, in the 2012 regular season, with both contests taking place at Joe Quintal Field.

Last week: Both teams played on Saturday last week. Mitchell fell on the road to No. 1-ranked Pierre, 50-6, while Aberdeen Central was out west for a date with Sturgis, dropping an 18-13 contest.

Notes:

  • Despite the road loss at No. 1 Pierre, Mitchell remained at No. 5 in the Class 11AA South Dakota Prep Media poll this week. Aberdeen Central has not been ranked in the top five yet this season and only received votes in the preseason edition of the poll.
  • This week's game will be streamed live on mitchelrepublic.com.
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Mitchell players Bryce Palmer, Esten Schlimgen (11) and Jagger Tyler (8) combine to tackle Sturgis' Reese Jacobs (20) during the Kernel Bowl football game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Joe Quintal Field.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

About the Kernels:

  • In last year's meeting, Mitchell outgained Aberdeen Central in total yardage, 367 to 348, but had trouble finishing drives in the defeat.
  • Treyson Schulz has thrown for more than 115 yards in two straight games, as the Kernels continue to expand their passing game to supplement a rushing attack that prominently features several different ballcarriers — four with more than 70 yards on the season — led by Mick Dailey's 110 yards.
  • Slow starts offensively have marked all three games for the Kernels, who have been outscored 81-14 in the first half this season, including 38-0 in the first quarter. Last week, Pierre accounted for 22 points of the first quarter total and 43 of the first half total for the season to date.
  • Limiting big plays will likely go a long way, as Mitchell looks to improve upon the average of 8.3 yards per play allowed through three games.

About the Golden Eagles:

  • Similarly to Mitchell, Aberdeen Central has faced a difficult early schedule. The Golden Eagles kicked off the season on the road at No. 1 Pierre (a 54-15 loss) and followed it up by hosting No. 2 Tea Area (a 35-0 loss). The Golden Eagles and Kernels both have early games against Sturgis to compare, with Aberdeen Central falling on the road, 18-13, and Mitchell winning at home, 36-22.
  • Following the graduation of key 2021 contributors such as quarterback Sam Rohlfs and receiving targets Jacob Merxbauer and Alec Voegele, the Golden Eagles offense has struggled to get off the ground in 2022, scoring 28 total points in three games.
  • Perhaps the Golden Eagles' most important returning player from a season ago, running back Karson Carda gained 76 yards on 13 rushing attempts in last year's Kernel Bowl and is back for his senior season.

Next:
Mitchell will be back at home next week for another stiff test on homecoming night against Class 11AAA No. 1 Sioux Falls Jefferson. Aberdeen Central is on the road next week to take on Huron, also on Friday.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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