Canistota/Freeman holds off Parkston in Class 9AA semifinal, advances to fourth-straight title game

No. 11 seeded Canistota/Freeman earns road win over No. 2 Parkston in semifinals

Canistota/Freeman's Isiah Robertson makes a move out of the grip of Parkston's Cole Prunty during a Class 9AA semifinal football game on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 in Parkston. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

PARKSTON -- Noah Kleinsasser’s late interception sealed the win to push Class 9AA No. 11 Canistota/Freeman into its fourth-straight nine-man football title game on Friday night.

Tage Ortman connected with Will Ortman for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 left to lift the Pride over Parkston 24-20. Two offensive plays later from Parkston, Kleinsasser had his moment to send Canistota/Freeman to the championship game.

“We’re expecting a pass, so we knew that was coming,” Kleinsasser said. “I figured our line was going to hold QB in the pocket and we just had to make a play on the ball and that’s what we did.”

In its losses, Canistota/Freeman had been bit by the turnover bug all season but against Parkston, C/F had zero turnovers, while forcing the Trojans into one interception and one fumble. Despite Parkston having 100 more rushing yards than the Pride, the Canistota/Freeman offense racked up 370 yards offensively, including 287 from its passing game that completed 53 percent of its passes.

“That notion of us being down and being in bad spots has really elevated us,” Canistota/Freeman head coach James Strang said. “We finished the regular season 4-4, now we’re a 3-0 (playoff) football team that’s gone on the road and taken some people out. It’s just tremendous … We took care of the football tonight, we know our offense can hit and even though it was up and down tonight, it hit when it needed to and our defense showed up late.”


The Pride will now face another team that has won three road playoff games in ninth-seeded Platte-Geddes, with the Class 9AA championship game scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 11 at the DakotaDome.

Tage Ortman went 16 of 31 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Isiah Robertson also had a touchdown throw to Will Ortman for 40 yards, along with seven receptions of his own for 77 yards. Will Ortman caught five passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Ethan Balvin led the defense with nine solo tackles.

For Parkston, Kaleb Weber went 5 of 8 for 61 yards and one touchdown. Cole Prunty had 12 carries for 97 and one touchdown. Payton Albrecht had eight rushes for 27 yards and one touchdown while Brayden Jervik had eight rush attempts for 38 yards.

As for the championship, the Pride faced the Black Panthers in the season opener back on Aug. 20 and lost 16-8. Both teams entered that game highly ranked and they're the last two standing in Class 9AA at the season's end.

“We lost games like this in the regular season in the fourth quarter so we just hope we can continue to build off of that and make things happen,” Strang said. “Hopefully things change now that we’re 10 games down since we played them the last time. Hopefully we’ll get something squared away because I know we can overcome adversity.”

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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