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Kernel Gameday: Mitchell football aims to stop skid at home against Watertown

The Kernels have dropped four straight games after a 1-1 start, but host the Arrows, the team against which a late-season spurt began one year ago.

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Mitchell's Treyson Schulz (12) attempts a pass as August Anderson (77) blocks during the MHS Homecoming football game against Sioux Falls Jefferson on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at Joe Quintal Field.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — With two-thirds of the regular season gone and in search of a spark, the Mitchell High School football team hosts Watertown in an Eastern South Dakota Conference contest set to sway the postseason outlook for both programs. Here’s what to know ahead of the contest:

When:
7 p.m. Friday

Where:
Joe Quintal Field

Records:
Mitchell 1-5; Watertown 1-5.

Last meeting:
Mitchell visited Watertown last season and defeated the Arrows, 27-13, in the penultimate game of the regular season, which snapped a six-game losing streak for the Kernels in 2021.

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Prior to last season's matchup, the two schools hadn't played since 2018 due in part to Watertown competing in Class 11AAA. Between 2013 and 2018, Mitchell went 4-2 in the series, with four straight Kernels wins between 2014 and 2017 bookended by Arrow victories.

Last week:
Mitchell fell on the road to Spearfish, 26-21, while Watertown was blanked in a 17-0 loss to Class 11AA No. 5 Aberdeen Central.

Notes:

  • Neither team received votes in the most recent South Dakota Prep Media football poll on Oct. 3. Both teams made their most recent appearances on Sept. 19, with Mitchell garnering two votes to one for Watertown.
  • As of Oct. 6, Mitchell has the No. 7 seed in the Class 11AA postseason standings, with Watertown one-half point behind at No. 8. Huron and Sturgis are not far out of the picture, tied just one-sixth of a point behind the Arrows, and making Friday night's game important to determine who ends up making the playoffs.

About the Kernels:

  • Mitchell had a breakthrough against Spearfish last week, scoring in the first quarter for the first time in 2022 with a pair of early touchdowns that came off turnovers. The Kernels will look for another fast start this week, having scored in the first quarter against the Arrows last season. On the season, the Kernels have been outscored 158-35 in the first half and 94-14 in the first quarter alone.
  • In last year's meeting, the Kernels bullied the Arrows on the ground, rolling to nearly as many rushing yards (261) as Watertown had total yards (280). Mitchell also won the turnover battle, taking the ball away three times (two fumble recoveries and one interception) while only giving it away once.
  • Quarterback Treyson Schulz accounted for two of Mitchell's four scores against the Arrows last season, one through the air and one on the ground. As the Kernels' leading passer (613 yards, four touchdowns) and rusher (178 yards, two touchdowns) to date, he'll be looked to to replicate and improve upon that effort from 2021.
  • The receiver on the end of Schulz's 18-yard first-quarter scoring strike in Watertown last season and having a standout senior campaign in 2022, A.J. Siemsen will look to find the endzone again and add to his team-best 22 receptions for 260 yards and two scores.

About the Arrows:

  • One of the breakout players in Class 11AA this season, Juven Hudson will be the focus of the Mitchell defense this week. For the season, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior leads the class with 742 rushing yards and has found the endzone on the ground five times. In Watertown's lone win against Huron, Hudson carried 24 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
  • The Arrows moved the ball well on the ground against Mitchell last season, gaining 190 rushing yards on 25 attempts. With Hudson leading the charge, Watertown will look to duplicate that success on Mitchell's home field.
  • Watertown's path to Friday's game has played out in a nearly identical fashion to Mitchell's. Both teams faced ranked Class 11AA opposition and lost to open the season before winning on their home fields in Week 2. But since the first weekend of September, both have dropped four straight, including common opponents Pierre and Aberdeen Central along with a game against Class 11AAA opposition.

Next:
Mitchell hosts another ESD rivalry contest, this time against Huron, at Joe Quintal Field on Oct. 14. Watertown returns home to host Spearfish, also on Oct. 14.

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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