Kernel Gameday: Mitchell football welcomes defending champion Pierre for home opener

Sep. 7—MITCHELL — For the first time in 2023 and first time under head coach Pat Larson, the Mitchell High School football team will take to Joe Quintal Field under the lights on Friday night.

Coming off two challenging road contests, the Kernels face another stiff test in their home opener by hosting six-time defending state champion Pierre in Eastern South Dakota Conference action.

Here's what to know ahead of the contest:

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Joe Quintal Field.

Records: Mitchell 0-2; Pierre 2-0.

Last meeting: Pierre ran away with a 50-6 win over Mitchell on Sept. 11, 2022, in Pierre, behind six first-half touchdown passes from now-Ohio State quarterback Lincoln Kienholz.

Last week: The Kernels dropped a 38-6 West River road contest at Sturgis. Meanwhile, the Governors rolled to a 49-0 shutout of ESD foe Brookings.


* Pierre was ranked No. 1 with 22 of 23 first-place votes in this week's Class 11AA South Dakota Prep Media poll. Mitchell did not receive a vote. It's the 12th-straight regular season week with the Governors atop the rankings, a streak that started at the beginning of 2022.

* Mitchell and Pierre have met eight times since the Kernels won the 2016 Class 11AA state title, with the Governors winning all eight by an average score of 44-10.

About the Kernels:

* Quarterback TJ Jellis, who has split snaps behind center with Lukas Chenoweth in both games this season, scored the Kernels' lone touchdown in Pierre last season on a 17-yard run in the second half.

* Also in the 2022 meeting, Parker Denne led the rushing attack with 45 yards on seven carries, while Mick Dailey had three receptions for 40 yards.

* Last week, the Kernels eclipsed 100 yards rushing and passing with 252 total yards for the game against Sturgis. Mitchell also managed to reach those thresholds at Pierre last season, finishing with 259 total yards, but was hindered by three turnovers.

* With the Governors' historic Class 11AA championship six-peat, Mitchell's 2016 title remains the last time a team other than Pierre reigned over the class.

About the Governors:

* Pierre carries a 17-game winning streak into Friday night. The Governors' last loss came on Oct. 21, 2021, a 21-14 loss to Brookings in the regular season finale. Since the start of 2017, Pierre owns an overall record of 64-9.

* The Govs have not allowed a point through two weeks, the only team in the state entering this week's slate with a season shutout intact. In those shutouts, Pierre has allowed a total of 182 yards, including 66 yards last week against Brookings.

* Though Kienholz is no longer behind center for Pierre, Cade Kaiser has already shown to be a quality successor. In two starts, the senior receiver-turned-quarterback has 342 yards passing, 241 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns.

* Tight end Jett Zabel, a North Dakota State football commit, has been the top target so far, hauling in 14 passes for 192 yards and five touchdowns, while running back Brock Moser has 132 yards rushing and two scores on 17 carries.

* In the previous two meetings, both wins in the Capital City, Pierre forced eight total Mitchell turnovers.

Next: Mitchell returns to the Joe Quintal Field turf against ESD foe Aberdeen Central at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, for the eighth annual Kernel Bowl. Pierre takes to the road for the third time in four weeks to visit Yankton for a ranked conference clash.