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Proctor brings home 'The Hammer' after win over Hermantown

"The Hammer" towered over Caleb Maki's head as the Proctor senior grabbed a hold of the traveling trophy and attempted to pound an imaginary nail into the Rails' football field Friday night.

"The Hammer" towered over Caleb Maki's head as the Proctor senior grabbed a hold of the traveling trophy and attempted to pound an imaginary nail into the Rails' football field Friday night.

It was appropriate that the smallest player on the field made the biggest plays in Proctor's 20-14 Sea-Range Conference victory over rival Hermantown.

Maki, who is listed at 5-foot-8 but admits to standing just 5-4 and weighing 162 pounds, returned a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter and forced another fumble on a fourth-down sack on Hermantown's final possession. He also made two field goals and two extra points as Proctor raised its record to 2-0.

Despite his physical shortcomings, Maki says there's other ways he can make an impact.

"I'm competitive by nature," said Maki, who plays basketball and baseball as well. "My parents always taught me to be aggressive, too, no matter how small or slow you are. You can always be aggressive and have a competitive edge."

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The win was the Rails' sixth straight in the regular season over Hermantown, keeping the symbolic trophy in Proctor activities director Rory Johnson's office for another year. The current run began when Proctor's seniors were in seventh grade.

"You don't realize how precious the Hammer is until you almost lose it," Proctor senior running back Luke Beckwith said.

Proctor appeared in trouble when the Hawks (1-1) drove 75 yards on their first possession to score on a Mike Carlson 1-yard run. But the Rails responded with a 17-play, 91-yard drive to tie it on Jorde Carlson's 3-yard dive.

"We were flat when we came out," Proctor coach Dave Hylla said. "It took a while to light a fire under them."

From then on, it was the Caleb Maki show. He booted a 27-yard field goal with 8.7 seconds left before halftime to give the Rails a 10-7 lead. And when Jon Macey hit Hermantown quarterback Koby Wargin in the backfield midway through the third quarter, Maki was there to scoop up the ball and run it back 13 yards for six points.

"As the strong safety, he can kind of roam," Hawks coach Daryl Illikainen said. "He can find the ball; he made some plays."

Maki showed his leg strength later in the quarter when he boomed a 37-yard field goal for a 20-7 lead.

"We had the momentum for a while, then we started to back down again," Beckwith said.

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But that's when the Rails' defense came through again. Four of Hermantown's six second-half drives ended in turnovers -- the final one coming when Maki blitzed and sacked Wargin, causing a fumble that Kyle Cottrell recovered.

Moments later, Maki and his teammates were passing around the Hammer one more time.

"Some years one team might be way stronger than the other," Illikainen said. "But this year it was pretty even all the way through -- offense, defense and special teams. Some of the bounces went their way."

Hermantown 7-0-0-7--14

Proctor 0-10-7-3--20

H -- Mike Carlson 1 run (Matt Engelmeier kick)

P -- Jorde Carlson 3 run (Caleb Maki kick)

P -- Maki 27 field goal

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P -- Maki 13 fumble return (Maki kick)

P -- Maki 37 field goal

H -- Engelmeier 16 pass from Koby Wargin (Engelmeier kick)

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