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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pioneers announce exciting changes to coaching staff for 2018

Some teams use the offseason to tweak their coaching staff.
The St. Paul Pioneers are super-charging theirs.
Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser, who has won eight league championships and three national titles since taking the St. Paul helm in 2008, on Tuesday announced several impressive additions as well as new roles for some coaches from last season.
Ben Campbell, a longtime Pioneers defensive back and special teams stalwart, joins the coaching staff as Assistant Head Coach, Special Teams Coordinator and defensive backs coach after coaching with the Minnesota Brawlers in 2017.
Jason Grendzinski will be the Pioneers Defensive Coordinator in 2018, after serving as the team’s defensive backs coach in 2017. Grendzinski is also the team’s Recruiting Coordinator.
Bryan Wrich was officially named the Pioneers’ Offensive Coordinator, essentially filling the role he performed all last season and Rob Neumann, who once ran the Pioneers offense, rejoins the squad in 2018 as an offensive assistant.
Dave Ladd, the Pioneers’ linebackers coach in 2017, will fill the same role in 2018.
Devin Waters, who spent several seasons helping the Pioneers’ defensive line terrorize opposing quarterbacks, will move over to the coaching ranks in 2018 as the Pioneers’ new defensive line coach. And Shannon Johnson, who won several national championships as a tough-as-nails center on the Pioneers offensive line, will serve as the team’s offensive line coach this season after serving in the same role with the Brawlers in 2017.
John Nelson returns to coach Pioneers quarterbacks in 2018, after serving the same role in 2017.
And Damien Rochon Washington, who also won several national championships as a wide receiver and was named to the team’s Hall of Fame after a stellar career as an original Pioneer, becomes the team’s wide receivers coach in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pioneers name new board members

Few things stay the same. Even for the St. Paul Pioneers, seven-time champions of the Northern Elite Football League.
At the Pioneers Board of Directors annual meeting Sunday, the Pioneers welcomed three new board members and said goodbye to three others.
New to the Pioneers board in 2018 are Ben Campbell, Bryan Wrich and Deb Wrich.
Stepping down from the board were Team President Pete Globa and team treasurer James Walsh. Board member Rick Barrett, who moved out of state, also was removed from the board.
The board also held an election to name new board officers. They are:
Team President Dan “Doc” Piper.
Team Vice President George “Juice” Hall.
Team Treasurer Bryan Wrich.
Team Secretary Ben Campbell.
The changes to the board are an exciting injection of new excitement and new ideas to one of the nation’s most consistently successful semi-pro football teams. From 2009 through 2016, the Pioneers won eight straight league championships and three national championships.
In 2017, the Pioneers fell in the league semi-finals, ending a streak of success that few teams in America can match. Board member and Head Coach Mark Heiser said Sunday’s meeting sets the table for continued success to come.
The Pioneers will hold their first tryout of 2018 on Jan. 6 at Concordia University-St. Paul, which has been the Pioneers’ home field since 2012.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A night of celebration… and goodbyes.

The 2017 St. Paul Pioneers turned the page on another successful season Sunday with their annual awards banquet at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill in St. Paul, celebrating teammates’ accomplishments and saying goodbye to two longtime coaches and board members.

While the Pioneers fell short of a championship – for the first time since 2009 – there was much to celebrate. Running back Isiah Sims, in his first full season as a starter, was named Team MVP and Offensive MVP for a season in which he led the NEFL in rushing.

Sims collected the most rushing yards, with nearly 1,100 yards, and the most touchdowns for the Pioneers this year. Other award-winners included Dominic Peace as Special Teams MVP; Phil Breidall, Defense MVP; Dejonte Skie as Rookie of the Year; Steve Giroux won the Pioneer Award; Jay Pearson received the President’s Award; Alex Hsu was named Lineman of the Year and Craig Ellestad was chosen to receive the Deanie Hooks Volunteer of the Year award.

The crowd gave a long ovation for the work of the team’s many volunteers.

Skie led the team in receptions. Breidall was the team’s leading tackler. Peace had the most interceptions and defensive end Caleb Huls led the team in quarterback sacks.
Several Pioneers were recognized for making the all-NEFL team. Linemen Jacob Husnik, Hsu and Jason Telin earned all-NEFL honors, as did Sims, receiver Stacy Kalkwarf, Skie and quarterback Cleve McCoy. Perennial all-star defensive tackle Jeff McGaster earned all-NEFL honors, as did Breidall, linebacker Mike Juberian and Peace. Kicker Jay Harding also was recognized for his outstanding season.

It was also an emotional night, as Team President Pete Globa, who also serves as the Pioneers’ special teams coordinator, and longtime board member James Walsh, the Pioneers defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, stepped down after careers that saw the team win three national championships and numerous league crowns.

Head Coach Mark Heiser praised his longtime friends and colleagues for their many contributions to the team… and he spoke with optimism about what the future holds.
“Our goal will be the same next year – an NEFL championship,” Heiser told the assembled players, volunteers and coaches. “I hope you all will want to continue to be a part of it. And it all starts again with tryouts in January.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Pioneers fall to Warriors, championship run ends

The Reign has ended. There will be a new champion.

The St. Paul Pioneers, champions of the NEFL every season since joining the league in 2010, will not repeat as top dog in 2017.

The Minneapolis Warriors, in a defensive battle, had just enough offense to send the Pioneers home, 17-7 Saturday at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

The Pioneers scored first, taking a 7-0 lead on a Cleve McCoy touchdown run in the first half. But the Warriors would knot the score, 7-7, just before halftime.
Minneapolis would score twice more in the second half to seal the win. St. Paul finishes the season 9-4 overall, 8-3 in the NEFL. It is the first time in eight seasons that the Pioneers have not finished as NEFL champions.

Minneapolis will play the Northland Bulls next week in the Elite Bowl.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pioneers overwhelm Invaders 44-3

Pioneers quarterback Cleve McCoy ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as the St. Paul Pioneers thoroughly dominated the Fargo Invaders 44-3 Saturday at Sea Foam Stadium in St. Paul in the first round of the NEFL playoffs. McCoy finished 15 of 18 passing for 222 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Offense, defense and special teams were all clicking from the start fro the Pioneers, as St. Paul opened a 14-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. The Pioneers led 31-3 at halftime. St. Paul's Isiah Sims had 108 yards and a touchdown rushing, as well as being on the receiving end of McCoy's scoring toss. Herschel Brazell also had a rushing touchdown and Jay Harding booted a 26-yard field goal. The Pioneers defense held the Invaders to less than 100 yards passing and a 33-yard field goal.

With the playoff win, St. Paul improved to 9-3 overall and 7-2 in NEFL play. St. Paul moved on to the West Division Championship game against the top-seeded Minneapolis Warriors. The game will be played Aug. 5 at Robbinsdale Cooper High School at a time to be determined.
Fargo ends their season, their first in the NEFL, with an overall record of 6-4.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Cleve McCoy.
Special Teams - Cordero Jones.
Defense - Mike Juberian.