Esko edges Proctor for Section 7AAA football title
Legendary Esko football coach Bob Peterson was drawing up plays for his grandson, Marc, from the time Marc was born until Bob's death two years ago.
Bob would have been proud on Thursday.
Marc Peterson guided the Eskomos to a thrilling 28-26 victory over Proctor in the Section 7AAA championship game with a flawless performance before about 1,000 spectators at Malosky Stadium.
Peterson finished 15-for-15 passing for 183 yards and three touchdowns, and he added a rushing touchdown -- the game winner -- for good measure.
The Eskomos (8-2) advance to their first state tournament since 2005, where they will play today's Section 8AAA winner between Perham and Park Rapids Area at 3 p.m. next Saturday at Public Schools Stadium. Proctor finished 8-2.
"That was the best game I've ever played, by far. I can't complain about that," Peterson said. "I don't care if it was 15-for-15 or 16-for-16. Whatever it was, I'll take it. I had no idea it was that good, but credit our receivers. I just throw it up to them and they go get it. Those guys make me look good."
Leading the way in that department was 6-foot senior Ryan Holte, who caught seven passes for 110 yards and three TDs as the Eskomos built a 20-6 lead early in the third quarter before the top-seeded Rails' offense began chugging offensively like a freight train.
Proctor senior Alex Greene rushed 23 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yarder as the Rails took a 26-20 lead early in the fourth quarter after scoring 20 unanswered points.
"They were talking up in the coaches' box that they were afraid that this was going to be a gunfight, and whoever would have the ball last would win, and that's what this was," Esko coach Bill Hudspith said. "Marc is our gunfighter on offense. He lets 'em fly. I always try to set him up with some nice passes by telling him who to throw to, but he will throw it to the other guy who is wide open. You give him the tools, you give him the reps and then you just have to let him go. He has a special talent about him."
Trailing by 6, Peterson guided Esko on a nine play, 58-yard drive capped by his 1-yard plunge with 6:48 to play.
The run-heavy Rails were able to drive into Esko territory in the closing seconds but never seriously threatened.
"We felt like we were tiring them down with our inside rushing attack, but we just ran out of time," said Proctor coach Derek Parendo. "We didn't do a good job of containing their passing game, but credit their quarterback. He was spot on. We come from a running league and don't see a lot of that. We knew we needed to score some points but just couldn't keep up with them."
The victory wasn't secure until Esko senior linebacker Wyatt Begay fell on a fumble near midfield with 8.2 seconds remaining.
"Before that last possession coach asked who wanted the football and I said I did," Begay said. "It was tough because I barely got a hand on the ball, but I was able to bring it in.
"We knew this was going to be a battle, but Marc really came on for us. That guy is pure talent, he's been blessed. He throws darts."
P -- Alex Greene 1 run (pass failed)
E -- Ryan Holte 27 pass from Marc Peterson (run failed)
E -- Holte 5 pass from Peterson (pass failed)
E -- Holte 52 pass from Peterson (Wyatt Begay run)
P -- Brodie Nordquist 5 run (kick failed)
P -- Greene 6 run (pass failed)
P -- Greene 65 run (Greene run)
E -- Peterson 1 run (Brock Carlson pass from Peterson)