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Proctor rolls over Eskomos in semifinals

Declan Sinnot-James (right) of Esko rushes the ball during Saturday's game against Proctor at Terry Egerdahl Memorial Field in Proctor. The Eskomos fell 17-6 to Proctor in the Section 7AA semifinal game. Clint Austin/Forum News Service 1 / 3
Ben Fischer of Esko catches a pass during Saturday's game against Proctor at Terry Egerdahl Memorial Field in Proctor. Clint Austin/Forum News Service 2 / 3
Tyler Peterson of Esko intercepts the ball during Saturday's game against Proctor at Terry Egerdahl Memorial Field in Proctor. Clint Austin/Forum News Service 3 / 3

Scoring points against the Proctor Rails football team this season is like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. The Esko Eskomos found out just how tough scoring can be in their Section 7AA playoff game in Proctor on Saturday afternoon. The Rails created six turnovers and they continually caused all sorts of problems in a 17-6 win over the Eskomos.

“We continued to have a difficult time hanging on to the ball,” said Esko coach Scott Arntson. “Proctor’s defense does a good job of being in the right position and they are very aggressive.”

The Rails defense not only held Esko’s offense in check, they made it nearly impossible to move the ball more than a yard or two at a time.

On the other side of the football, the Rails were also held scoreless in the first half by the stingy Esko defense, but Proctor broke through for two quick scores in the second quarter. The first touchdown was an 11-yard touchdown scamper by John Aase, who also tacked on the extra point to make it 7-0 in favor of Proctor. The Rails added another score just moments later when they recovered a fumble on their kickoff to the Eskomos and quarterback John Pioro scored on a quarterback sneak from a yard out a few plays later to make it 14-0 after the Aase extra point kick.

“At halftime I told the kids that the score will be 14-7 after the third quarter,” explained Arntson. “I said that we then would just have to win the fourth quarter and it appeared like we had a chance.”

Arntson proved somewhat prophetic when Reid Davidson finally got the Eskomos on the scoreboard on a scoop-and-score fumble recovery that covered 43 yards early in the second half to make it 14-6, but the Eskomos missed the extra point kick or Arntson’s prediction would have been deadly accurate.

That was the only score of the game by Esko and it came from the defensive side of the ball.

“They have a bunch of players who enjoy playing defense,” said Arntson. “They take pride in their ability to play defense.”

The Rails defense proved relentless throughout the game. The defense intercepted Esko quarterback Stone DeLeon three times and they caused three other turnovers. Esko managed just 77 yards in the first half.

The versatile and talented Aase finally finished the scoring when he booted a 22-yard field goal with four minutes remaining, building the lead to 17-6 and virtually ending Esko’s chance at a comeback.

At times the game had more laundry (in the form of penalty flags) on the field than a local laundromat. Both teams were flagged numerous times and the officials had all they could do to reel in the players on both sides.

“There were a lot of questionable play early in the game,” Arntson said. “I didn’t feel it was one-sided and I think it is important for the officials to get control of the game before any players get hurt.”

It was a tough year for Esko. On a yearly basis, the Eskomos are one of the top teams in northern Minnesota, but this year they struggled with finding wins and learning new systems under a new coach after the departure of longtime coach Bill Hudspith.

“I’ve been through this before,” said Arntson. “The bigger picture is to make sure that our program is heading in the correct direction.”