VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Canistota/Freeman met Warner in this year’s class 9A state title game in the DakotaDome. The Pride came away with a 12-0 win, claiming their third straight 9A championship.
“It was extremely difficult. Just a tremendous ball club in Warner. They did so many things defensively that we had to try and adapt to on the fly and make things happen. Just a tremendous effort from them. It took two scores and that got it done. I was so happy with the way our defense was able to create those turnovers throughout the course of the game. It made a world of difference,” Canistota/Freeman Head Coach James Strang said.
“We turned the ball over and that’s what we try not to do obviously, but our team rallied together. We got the ball back and stopped them. Just a great team win,” Canistota/Freeman Senior Tyce Ortman said.
Offense didn’t come easy for either team as only two touchdowns were scored. Both of them came from Canistota/Freeman quarterback Tyce Ortman including an incredible 64-yard touchdown run.
“The run was to the right side and I kind of seen that it was clogged up, so I bounced it out to the left side,” Ortman said. “The offensive line did a great job blocking and they did a great job throughout the whole night.”
“I don’t know how he even got through there. It was a nice play and Tyce just does a great job. It seems like he isn’t moving and I always think he has to hit the gap and once he finds his seam, no arm tackle is going to bring him down,” Strang said. “I think he had a hand on him, he broke through and was able to get six out of it. It was a huge run.”
Warner didn’t have many scoring opportunities, but a strong drive in the fourth quarter gave the Monarchs a first and goal chance. Four plays later, the Pride came away with a goal line stand, keeping the Monarchs off the board.
“I couldn’t believe it. They’re marching down us and I’m scratching in the dirt. I’m throwing forties at them, I’m bringing edges and they’re marching it right down my grill,” Strang said. “I guess it took them until the one to figure out we needed to stop them from scoring.”
Thursday’s win gave Canistota/Freeman their third straight 9A title, which is one better than Canistota’s back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012.
“We’ve always dreamed about that. I mean, since watching the Hawk days, when they won that three peat back in the day and now we get to experience that and it’s pretty cool,” Ortman said.
Along with three state championships, the Pride have posted an impressive 33-3 record over the past three seasons and that success can be credited to the effort of the players.
“Blind and uncontrollable effort and I don’t think there has been anybody in the games that have been tight throughout this season, to cap off that three peat and coming into it, that’s one thing I can always say about this group and that’s effort,” Strang said. “You can’t look at a twelve-zero ball game and it was biting nails the whole way, shape and form. Defense wins championships and defense takes effort and it was a team effort tonight. I’m so proud of these boys.”