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Thursday, March 28, 2013

At Minicamp, Pioneers say they expect nothing but the best in 2013

By Cassie Kickert

In 2013, the St. Paul Pioneers are out to prove that 2012 was no fluke. Their mission is to do one thing: win. They have done that a lot, especially over the past three seasons. Toward that end, the Pioneers held their annual minicamp at Augsburg College on Saturday, March 23

In 2012, the Pioneers went undefeated on their way to winning their third NEFL championship and the USA Bowl National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. Starting quarterback Michael Spriggs said he believes the team will again lead the league in wins in 2013 and can also repeat as the league-leading offense.

Indeed, his high expectations are not unwarranted. The Pioneers return a group of talented receivers, including Marcus Foster, Delane Woods and Joe Ubani. Joining them this season will be Davarus Branigan, an exceptional tight end who played for the Quad City Raiders.

Michael Harley is another new Pioneers receiver who the team is also trying out at defensive back
Like the rest of the Pioneers, Harley just wants to win. He played for the Rochester Giants in the past

“I’ve been close a couple of times before but never won a title in anything. This is a good opportunity,” he said.

Other than playing football, Harley spends his time finishing school at Augsburg and running track to stay in shape.

Although the offense boasts some promising new weapons, Spriggs acknowledges that the Pioneers’ domination starts with the defense. Brock Keaton is one new addition to the Pioneers defense that impressed star corner/kick returner Lionel Lamarre. More help is always needed in the secondary, according to Lamarre, and “more competition is always a key championship ingredient,” he said.

Keaton is originally from the Twin Cities, graduating from Hopkins High School in 2008. He was a two-year starter for Minnesota State University-Moorhead until his coaching staff got fired and he lost his athletic scholarship.

He started researching semi-pro football teams in the Twin Cities, found the Pioneers’ website and liked what he saw. When not playing football, Keaton is finishing his bachelor’s degree in public relations. In his spare time, he also enjoys hanging out with his daughter.

The Pioneers 2013 schedule features the much tougher competition Lamarre referred to – starting with the Fox Valley Force on April 27th at St. Paul Humboldt High School.

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