Prep football: Proctor’s return home is ‘a new beginning’ – Duluth News Tribune

PROCTOR — Late in the third quarter, Proctor Junior Dane Oman intercepted Hibbing quarterback Bryson Larrabee and returned him about 20 yards for a touchdown Friday at Egerdahl Field.

Oman’s score made it 12-0 and the Rails’ defensive back had two more interceptions in the fourth quarter that ended the Bluejackets’ last two drives in Proctor’s 18-0 win.

“The quarterback just threw it at me,” Oman said. “(Assistant coach Demetrice Whittaker) told me, ‘If you stand there, Dane, they’ll throw it at you and they did. Just getting into the end zone – I’ve been dreaming about this since I started playing in fifth grade. I always wanted this moment to happen and for it to happen here in our first home game, it’s just a great thing.”

Not only was it the Rails’ first home game in over a year, but it was their first win of any kind since the 2020 season and first home win since the 2019 win over Hermantown.

“We went out and played hard,” coach Matt Krivinchuk said. “The children fought all the time. We still had our ups and downs, we still had our mistakes. We were far from perfect, but just like last week, they never gave up. They played for each other, chased him down and came out victorious today.”

Even the fans seemed to be out of practice in the first half. Public address announcer Mark Fleischer had to remind the crowd to cheer during a critical run in the second quarter.

“You know, Rails fans, it’s okay to get strong when your defense faces a fourth down,” he said.

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Proctor fans began to stomp the stands and before long the low rumble turned into a raucous cheer as the Rails made the save.

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor fans celebrate a touchdown against Hibbing on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

However, the fans needed no indication when Oman scored in the third quarter.

“We are in a football game, it is a process and we all have things to learn,” said Krivinchuk. “If we have to teach everyone else on the road what it’s like, we’ll do that too.”

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor football players stand for the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Proctor’s season ended last year in controversy and confusion, canceled after a young player was sexually assaulted in a locker room hazing incident. A senior on the 2021 team was convicted of sexual assault, and the entire coaching staff left the program.

Krivinchuk has worked since his May hire to build relationships with his players and instill a culture of responsibility within the program.

While the Rails already played at Cloquet last week, fans at Egerdahl Field haven’t seen their home team since a season-opening loss to Cloquet on Sept. 3, 2021.

Students packed their section and while ominous clouds may have delayed other fans, early in the fourth quarter most of the stands were full.

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor’s Carter St. Germaine (2) carries the ball against Hibbing’s Jack Bautch (23) on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

“It’s super exciting to be able to do this, especially after everything was shut down and we didn’t have our season last year,” said Proctor senior Brooklyn Burch. “It’s good to see our fan section full. I know the football team appreciates all of our support and we want to make sure they feel supported because they’ve been through so much.”

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Proctor is also starting his season with a new look, or perhaps a throwback to a better time for Rails football. The new uniforms are a brighter green than the one they wore in past seasons and feature yellow accents. The helmets remain primarily white with an interlocking P and R in the same green and yellow on one side, train tracks in the middle, and the inscription “Rails” on the other.

The addition of yellow evokes the look of Proctor uniforms from many years ago, while the decals on the helmets carry deeper symbolism.

Most fans and students had positive reviews of the new look with many sporting hoodies bearing the new logo.

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor students react to the Rails recovering a side kick against Hibbing on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Last fall’s events divided the local community and sparked protests outside the school in the days after the season was cancelled. The “Rails” decal represents the team, while the interlocking letters represent the community. The train tracks in the center of the hull represent the two coming together to move forward, according to Proctor High School Principal Tim Rohweder.

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor football players wear newly designed football helmets on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

“It’s a good way to usher in something new,” said senior Joshua Monreal. “Adding a new color and changing it completely feels like starting a new chapter.

Cheryl Masterson came out to support the new team leadership and saw her grandson Nathan Tangen on the sidelines. She was excited to see the Rails back on the field.

“After the pandemic and all of last year, it’s nice to have the team back and a little bit of community pride,” Masterson said. “It was a real drag last year and this feels like a new beginning.”

P – Carter St. Germaine 7 race (unsuccessful race)

P — Dane Oman 20 interception return (run failed)

P — Zak McPhee 49 run (miss kick)

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor football players enter the field for a game against Hibbing on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor’s Gavin Tabbert (7) claps his hands to his teammates during introductions before playing Hibbing on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Hibbing’s Nathan Gustafson (11) intercepts the ball against Proctor on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor football players celebrate after scoring the first touchdown of the game against Hibbing on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Football players and fans at outdoor high school game
Proctor faces Hibbing in soccer on Friday, September 9, 2022 at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

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