ONIDA — Canistota/Freeman is heading back to the Class 9A state title game.
The Pride traveled to previously undefeated Sully Buttes on Friday, and they experienced an offensive explosion right away in a 56-22 win.
"Boys have overcome some great adversity throughout the year and they continue to play as a unit," Canistota/Freeman coach James Strang said. "I'm really proud for our kids and our community to get this opportunity."
Canistota/Freeman scored four touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 42-14 halftime lead. The Chargers held it to 14 points after the break, but the Pride had an insurmountable lead paired with a stout defense.
Tyce Ortman ran for 27 and 64 yard touchdowns in the first 3 minutes of the game, and then added a 62-yard touchdown run by the end of the quarter. Trey Ortman ran for a 57-yard score to complete the 28-6 first-quarter lead.
"We made some good decisions and executed a solid game plan after we identified some possibilities, and they ended up being there tonight early on," Strang said. "... Trey, the offensive line and Tyce did a great job of setting the table and we were able to execute. Just a great team effort and spotlighted by a couple of big plays that opened up a can of worms."
While Tyce, who ran for 185 yards on 11 carries, didn’t find the end zone again, Trey accounted for three more scores. He connected with Logan Katzer for two scores and ran for a four-yard touchdown, finishing with 142 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
Katzer added 72 yards on four grabs and intercepted Nick Wittler during the Pride’s strong defensive showing. Collin Helma had a pick-six, too.
Led by Katzer and Riley Heiberger’s team-high nine tackles each, Canistota/Freeman held Sully Buttes below 10 points in each quarter and 360 yards in the game.
Wittler still ran for a team-high 121 yards and threw for 175 and a touchdown to Grant Johnson, who caught eight passes for 109 yards. But he also threw two picks in the loss.
"(Wittler) does so many things well with his eyes downfield to hold you," Strang said. "He has such a great escapability. And for a kid that ain't very heavy, he packs a load when he wants to and he jukes the snot out of you."
Sully Buttes had just six points until Wittler’s touchdown toss to Grant Johnson with 27 seconds remaining in the first half, and then were held scoreless in the third quarter.
"I'm happy with our defensive effort," Strang said. "There's things that we still need to sharpen up on and improve going forward into that championship game, but I thought overall we did a really good job controlling them as much as we probably can control them."
Canistota/Freeman (10-1) plays Britton-Hecla at 11 a.m. on Nov. 14 at Dana J. Dykhouse in Brookings in the Class 9A title game. Sully Buttes finishes the season 10-1.