Three-peat: Shutout effort carries Canistota/Freeman to another Class 9A state title
VERMILLION -- Tyce Ortman’s legs and a goal line stand put the finishing touches on a Canistota/Freeman three-peat.
Behind Ortman’s 253 rushing yards and fourth-quarter goal line stand, Canistota/Freeman knocked off Warner (12-0) and secured its third consecutive Class 9A title on Thursday at the DakotaDome.
“Defense wins championships and defense takes effort,” Canistota/Freeman coach James Strang said. “It was a team effort tonight. I am so proud of these boys.”
The knockdown, drag-it-out contest was the lowest scoring 9A title game ever. It was also the lowest scoring nine-man title game in any class since 1993 (Harding County 8, Castlewood 0 in 9B).
“It was honestly probably one of the toughest games I ever played in,” said Canistota/Freeman senior Cole Papendick, who was named the most outstanding lineman.
Ortman -- the Joe Robbie MVP and most outstanding back -- scored both touchdowns for the Pride (11-1). But his third-quarter score was the biggest. Facing a 3rd and 1 at its own 36, Ortman bounced it to the outside and it was a race to the end zone.
“I kind of saw it clogged up,” Ortman recalled. “So I bounced it out to the left side, but the offensive line did great. They did a great job blocking throughout the whole night.”
The score made it 12-0 with 5 minutes and 8 seconds left, allowing Warner (10-1) plenty of time to answer. But Canistota/Freeman’s defense kept the Monarchs out of the end zone.
Warner began the next drive on its own 15-yard line and methodically moved the ball down the field. The Monarchs moved the ball inside Canistota/Freeman’s 10-yard line and later faced a fourth and goal at the 1-yard line.
“They were just marching right down my grill and I guess they took until the one until we figured we needed to stop them from scoring,” Strang said. “It was just a tremendous effort.”
Riley Heiberger and Logan Katzer led a host of Pride tacklers and stuffed Warner’s Ty Cramer on fourth down, which came at the end of a 15-play drive.
“I think we had five goal-line stands against Howard in that triple overtime (on Sept. 11),” Strang added. “I would take this one over those against Howard.”
Warner got the ball back one last time, but it again turned the ball over on downs. Canistota/Freeman then ran out the clock and capped off its third consecutive 11-1 season.
“Our defense was huge and just like every game, our defense is always big and it’s all responsibility based,” Ortman said. “So if everybody does their job, then good things happen.”
Canistota/Freeman, however, faced some early adversity in this one. The teams traded fumbles in the opening moments, with Warner coughing it up twice in its first three possessions.
After Tate Tieszen pounced on Jackson McNeil’s fumble in the second quarter, Ortman gashed the Monarchs for a 49-yard gain two plays later. The speedster capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown and a 6-0 advantage. Canistota/Freeman could have tacked on more points, but it came away empty on two possessions inside Warner’s territory.
“We definitely turned over the ball and that’s what we try not to do obviously,” Ortman said. “Our team rallied together and we got the ball back and stopped them multiple times.”