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Warner’s Jackson McNeil reacts after fumbling the ball during the first half of the Monarchs’ 12-0 loss to Canisota-Freeman in the 9A championship game on Thursday night in the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
Photo by Rodney Haas

Defense leads Pride to 3-Peat
Nov 13, 2020

By Rodney Haas 

VERMILLION — Effort. A blind controllable effort is how Canistota-Freeman coach James Strang described his team’s 12-0 win over Warner in Thursday’s 9A state championship game at the DakotaDome.

“That’s one thing I can always say about this group is effort,” Strang said. “You can’t look at a 12-0 ballgame and it was biting nails all the way through

The defense proved big for the Pride (11-1) who held the Monarchs (10-1) to just 143 yards on 46 plays, while forcing three turnovers. 

“I was so happy with our defense to create those turnovers throughout the game,” Strang said. “It made a world of difference. Our offense wasn’t flashy, but it was enough to get the job done tonight.”

Canistota-Freeman quarterback Tyce Ortman was responsible for the only scores on the night. He gave the Pride a 6-0 halftime lead when he scampered in for a 7-yard run with 8:37 left in the second quarter, and then broke off a 64-yard run with 5:08 to play in the third quarter.

Ortman ended the night with 263 yards on 27 carries. He also completed 5 of 11 passes for 42 yards. 

“Tyce does a great job,” Strang said of his quarterback. “It seems like he doesn’t move but then he hits the gap. Once he finds his seam, no arm tackle is going to bring him down.”

Warner, which entered Thursday’s championship game undefeated, had difficulty moving the ball throughout the first half but managed some success in the second half.

The Monarchs missed an opportunity to finally get on the board early in the fourth quarter after they drove downfield to the Pride’s 1-yard-line.

“It was extremely difficult,” Strang said of the Monarchs. “It was just a tremendous ball club in Warner. They did so many things defensively that we had to try and adopt on the fly and make it happen. It was just a tremendous effort on them. It took two scores to get it done.”

Jackson McNeil led Warner with 46-yards on 11 carries, while Hunter Cramer completed 6-of-15 passes for 58 yards.

The win marks the third-straight state championship for Canistota-Freeman and comes week after knocking off No. 1 seed, Howard, 12-7 in the semifinals. 

“Defense wins championships and defense takes effort and it was a team effort tonight. I’m so proud of these boys,” Strang said.

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