CANISTOTA, S.D. (KELO) — The Pride are coming off their 3rd straight State Championship, becoming the first program since Freeman in the late 90’s to claim 3 consecutive 9A titles. But Canistota/Freeman won’t have the chance to win a 4th straight 9A title because they’ve moved up to Class 9AA.
Winning is a tradition for both Canistota and Freeman, with 9 combined titles between the two schools, and now 3 more as a co-op.
“We try to impress on each senior group, and each junior group and each starting group that this is your season and which way do you want to go. Do you want to perpetuate it, do you want to continue that legacy, or are you going to come up short,” Head Coach James Strang said.
Success isn’t measured by winning state championships, but that doesn’t change the Pride’s expectations.
“That expectation is out there that we compete for year in and year out, and so we try to hold up to that standard,” Strang said.
The Pride return plenty of key contributors from last year including Isaiah Robertson, Riley Hyberger, and Jacob Swenson. But they’ll have to replace the void left by quarterback Tyce Ortman, and might look at another Ortman to do that.
“Tage worked hard this summer. He’s coming in as a sophomore quarterback, see how he pans out and see which direction we want to go here in the next few days and get a true plan put together as far where we go at quarterback,” Strang said.
While this year’s group will look to cap off its season with a state title, they’re also looking to do something that none of those 3 previous teams accomplished.
“In these three state title that we’ve had, ’18, ’19, and ’20, you know we went 33-3 in those three state titles and we did not win a conference championship. That’s where we set our standard. We figure if we can go out there, compete for a conference championship, see if we can’t win that conference championship, we’re going to make ourselves successful in the postseason,” Strang said.
Canistota/Freeman and Platte-Geddes will clash week one in a battle of defending state champions. Kickoff is set for 7:00 from Platte.