Prep football: Proctor’s return home ‘a new beginning’
The Rails picked up their first home win since 2019 with their shutout win over Hibbing Friday.
PROCTOR — Late in the third quarter, Proctor junior Dane Oman picked off Hibbing quarterback Bryson Larrabee and returned it 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 kind of just threw it to me,” Oman said. “(Assistant Coach Demetrice Whittaker) told me ‘If you just stay right there, Dane, they’re going to throw it to you and they did. Just getting into the end zone — I’ve been dreaming about this since I started playing in fifth grade. I’ve always wanted this moment to happen and having it happen here at our first home game, it’s just something great.”
Not only was it the Rails' first home game in more than a year, it was their first win of any kind since the 2020 season and first home win since a 2019 win over Hermantown.
“We came out and played hard,” coach Matt Krivinchuk said. “The kids battled the whole 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, they got after it and came out on top today.”
Even the fans seemed like they were out of practice in the first half. Public address announcer Mark Fleischer had to remind the crowd to cheer during a critical second-quarter drive.
“You know Rails fans, it’s ok for you to get loud when your defense faces a fourth down,” he said.
Proctor fans started stomping on the bleachers and in no time the low rumble had become a raucous cheer with the Rails making the stop.
Fans didn’t need any prompting when Oman scored in the third quarter, though.
“We are at a football game, it’s a process and we’ve all got some things to learn,” Krivinchuk said. “If we have to teach everybody else along the way what it’s like — we’ll do that too.”
Proctor’s season ended last year in controversy and turmoil, 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 hire in May to build relationships with his players and instill a culture of accountability within the program.
While the Rails already played at Cloquet last week, the fans at Egerdahl Field haven’t seen their hometown team since a season-opening loss to Cloquet Sept. 3, 2021.
Students filled their section and while ominous clouds may have delayed other fans, by early in the fourth quarter most of the stands were filled.
“It’s super-exciting to be able to do this especially after everything being shut down and not having our season last year,” Proctor senior Brooklyn Burch said. “It’s good to see our fan section full. I know that the football team appreciates all of our support and we want to make sure that they feel supported because they’ve been through a lot of stuff.”
Proctor is also starting its season with a new look, or perhaps a throwback to a better time for Rails football. The new uniforms are a brighter green than what they wore the last several seasons and they feature yellow accents. The helmets are still primarily white with an interlocking P and R in the same green and yellow on one side, railroad tracks in the middle and a script “Rails” on the other.
The addition of yellow calls back to the look of Proctor uniforms from many years ago, while the helmet decals have a deeper symbolism.
Most fans and students had positive reviews of the new look and many were sporting hoodie sweatshirts with the new logo.
The events last fall divided the local community and led to protests outside the school in days following the season’s cancelation. The “Rails'' decal represents the team, while the interlocking letters represent the community. The railroad tracks down the center of the helmet represent both coming together to move forward, according to Proctor High School principal Tim Rohweder.
“It’s a good way to bookmark the start of something new,” senior Joshua Monreal said. “Adding a new color and switching it up completely feels like starting a new chapter.
Cheryl Masterson came to support the team’s new leadership and see grandson Nathan Tangen on the sidelines. She was excited to see the Rails back on the field.
“After the pandemic and everything last year, it’s good to have the team back and a little community pride,” Masterson said. “It was a real burden last year and this feels like a new beginning.”