Cool under pressure: Ortman’s decision making for Pride has led to 4-0 start

CANISTOTA--Quarterbacks are often judged by how far they can throw the ball or how many yards they can rack up, but there is more to the position than physical attributes.

Canistota/Freeman's Trey Ortman pitches the ball to Austin Thu (25) while Howard's EJ Leetch (52) wraps him during a game on Aug. 24 in Howard. (Matt Gade / Republic)

CANISTOTA-Quarterbacks are often judged by how far they can throw the ball or how many yards they can rack up, but there is more to the position than physical attributes.

Canistota/Freeman quarterback Trey Ortman has been both calm and confident with his decision making through the first half of the 2018 season, guiding the Class 9A No. 3-ranked Pride to a 4-0 record and an offense that is averaging 48.5 points per game.

"He makes a lot of good decisions throwing it," Canistota/Freeman head coach James Strang said. "He's efficient passing the ball and when throw the ball 10 times a game like we have been, it's very important we capitalize on those opportunities. He's a smart kid in the classroom and he's a very smart kid on the field."

Ortman got a taste of varsity football in 2017, earning the starting job as a sophomore to help propel Canistota/Freeman to a 6-4 record and a trip to the second round of the Class 9A playoffs.

This season Ortman has found his groove, and his statistics and play reflect it. He is completing 68.8 percent of his passes, while throwing for 574 yards and nine touchdown passes, without an interception. Ortman has also spearheaded Canistota/Freeman's triple-option attack, rushing for six more touchdowns at a clip of 8.8 yards per carry. And as if he didn't have enough responsibilities, Ortman also placed third at the Cornbelt Conference cross-country meet on Wednesday.


"Making better decisions and making quicker decisions was important," Ortman said. "Last year I wasn't great at the option so I really needed to improve on that."

Ortman has been honing his craft since the third grade, watching his favorite player, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Like Roethlisberger, Ortman has displayed an ability to extend plays to find the open receiver and make a snap decision.

"You don't want to let your team down and there's other guys taking hits every single play," Ortman said. "I know that every once in a while I've got to take my shots, too."

Canistota/Freeman may need Ortman's cool demeanor in the second half of the season, with three of the final four opponents combining for a 12-1 record, beginning on Friday against Class 9AA No. 5 Irene-Wakonda on the road.

"During the day, there might be a little nervousness, but once you get on the field it's all gone," Ortman said. "It's just football."

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