High-flying Falcon: Florence's Luke Maki continuing family line with Air Force Academy dream

Posted at 4:32 PM, Nov 03, 2021

FLORENCE — Luke Maki does it all at Florence-Carlton High School.

He's the president of the student council, he's a three-sport athlete and captain on the undefeated football team, and he's a 4.0 student on his way to being named valedictorian. Add all of that up, and it's a recipe Maki hopes results in an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy both in the classroom and on the football field.

It's a goal long sought-after for Maki, who from a young age wanted to attend the Air Force Academy.

"So I can remember all the way since I was four, I had made up my mind, 4-year-old me, that was what I wanted to do," Maki said. "I wanted to go to the academy, I wanted to serve in the Air Force, I wanted to play football for them."

And there's a reason for that.

His father, Terry Maki, is a Libby native and a legend in Air Force athletics.

Libby native Terry Maki with the Air Force football team.

Terry graduated from the academy in 1987, and was inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame in September after an All-America career where he set the all-time school record in career tackles (475), as well as the single-game (30) and season (195) tackling records. He was named a Kodak All-American in 1986.

His single-game record of 30 tackles came against Notre Dame in 1985, in a game where Terry blocked a game-winning field goal attempt that was returned for a touchdown that is considered to be arguably the biggest play in Air Force football history.

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Libby native Terry Maki, left, at the Hula Bowl for the Air Force Academy in 1986.

Terry also wrestled for two years at Air Force and was a two-time NCAA championships qualifier and a conference heavyweight champ in 1985.

His son, Luke, hopes to follow in those footsteps, but also wants to carve his own career path.

"That was because of my dad, it was because I looked up to him as an idol and I still do," Maki said. "My dad’s an awesome person, I respect him a lot but at some point your dreams have to become your own and not you chasing someone else. It changed into I wanted this for myself. I wanted this because serving my country was something important to me and going to the Academy was one of the best ways I knew how to do it. And football is something important to me as well so I wanted to mix them all together.

"It's just really neat to be a part of that and have a father like that and to able to fill those shoes. He left a big impact and did a lot of great things."

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Libby native Terry Maki (67) playing for the Air Force Academy.

The younger Maki has a long line of military service academies in his family, including his mother, Delaine, and brother, Kahlan, at West Point and his sister, Preslee, at Air Force, who played volleyball for the Falcons. He mentioned he also has in-laws who have also attended the Air Force Academy.

He's aware of the grind service academies require, but Maki wants that for himself.

"Because the academies push you in every aspect of your life," Maki said. "They don’t just push you like a normal college does in your education. They’re going to push you physically, mentally, emotionally. They’re going to push you in every aspect of your life and those people are very successful and great leaders for our country.

"I've spent all of high school and really most of my life with that goal in mind. This is something I've always wanted to do with my life."

Military academies are some of the most prestigious and difficult institutions to be accepted to in the country, and the application process is long and arduous. Maki is currently finishing his application and will know in the spring whether he was admitted.

So for the time being, the senior captain's focus is on Florence's quarterfinal opponent in the Class B playoffs in what's been a special season for the Falcons. After topping Cut Bank in the opening round of the playoffs 37-0, Florence is currently 9-0 and holds home-field advantage throughout the entirety of the Class B playoffs as long as they keep winning. Maki, a tight end and linebacker, has racked up 18 catches for 361 yards and six touchdowns this year and has ran for another score. Defensively, he has 69 total tackles, 12 for loss, as well as four sacks. Florence hosts Columbus on Saturday.

Maki and the rest of the Falcons are looking to bring the school its first state football title since 1977.

"Something we always are trying to look at is B.T.M which is our 'bigger than me,' which was brought by coach Pat (Duchien) and we’ve really bought into it I feel as a team," Maki said. "That’s just not playing for ourselves, not playing for stats, not being selfish but playing for our teammates."