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Monday, November 25, 2013

Pioneers add two top offensive assistants to coaching staff

The four-time NEFL Champion St. Paul Pioneers are adding to their offensive coaching staff – in a very big way.

Anthony Minus, a former St. Paul City Conference Coach of the Year who won a National Championship as a player with the Pioneers in 2009 and has coached at the high school, college and amateur football levels was named the Pioneers offensive coordinator for 2014.

Bryan Wrich, an original Pioneer who has led the Minnesota Sting offense to championships the previous two seasons, was named an offensive assistant with the Pioneers who will work closely with Minus and Head Coach Mark Heiser to help the Pioneers continue their productive and high-scoring ways.

Both coaches begin their new duties immediately.

Minus most recently was the head coach of the Minnesota Silverbacks amateur team. A dean of students for the St. Paul Public Schools, Minus has a long and distinguished football history and a sharp football mind.
A one-time tight end for Concordia University-St. Paul, who went on to play offensive line for Southwest Minnesota State University, Minus in 2004 was offered a contract to play with the Sioux City Bandits of the Indoor Football League. As an amateur, Minus won league championships with the Minneapolis Lumberjacks, the Twin Cities Titans, the Buffalo Wildcats and the St. Paul Pioneers. In 2009, Minus helped the Pioneers win the first National Championship ever captured by a Minnesota team, when the Pioneers topped the Nashville Storm in a thrilling last-second victory in Miami, Fl.

Minus’ coaching career has been filled with accolades, as well. He coached the defensive line at Augsburg College from 2004 through 2006, working with all MIAC and all region players. From 2007 through 2011, he was head football coach at St. Paul Humboldt High School, where he was named 2010 St. Paul City Conference Coach of the Year. Minus coached the school’s first all-state player in a decade, as well as conference players of the year and all-academic players. The former Nike and USA Football clinician was credited with rebuilding the Humboldt program from just 18 players to a roster of 55.

He left high school coaching to spend more time with his family. But Minus said the pull of rejoining the Pioneers family was too strong to stay away.

“When I saw the Pioneers had an opening for an O coordinator, I just had to try to come back. My commitment to this team is strong. I want to be a part of another national championship,” he said.

Minus said he intends to coach in a collaborative style, using input from players and coaches to help build upon the Pioneers’ history of offensive success, forged over the past four seasons by Rob Neumann and, before that, Jason Fleming.

“This is a great offense, a great team,” Minus said. “I want to help take what we do well and help it become better. We have great players, a lot of talent. This will be fun.”

The Pioneers may be the only team in local amateur football to be adding two championship offensive coordinators to its coaching ranks. Bryan Wrich, the offensive coordinator for the high-scoring Minnesota Sting, is joining the staff as an offensive assistant. Wrich helped guide the Sting offense to Minnesota Premier Football League records for total offense, passing, rushing and scoring.

A coaching change with the Sting, who are joining the Northern Elite Football League in 2014, and a chance to rejoin the Pioneers are the reasons Wrich is coming back to the Cardinal and Black.

“I am pretty excited too,” said the former Pioneers offensive lineman, who played with the original Pioneers squad in 2002. “It’s a good time for a change of scenery for me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Wrich is a 1995 graduate of Park of Cottage Grove High School who went on to play for Minnesota State University-Mankato. He came into adult amateur football with the Woodbury Warriors, before joining the Pioneers. A neck injury ended his playing career but Wrich was itching to get back into the game as a coach. In 2005, he was an assistant at St. Francis High School and with the Oakdale Outlaws, another amateur team.

Wrich went on to call the offense for the Minnesota Phoenix, who regularly faced the Pioneers in the Mid-America Footall League and the North American Football League. He then spent a season coaching with the Minnesota Rhinos, before moving on to the Sting.

Wrich said rejoining the Pioneers is like reaching the pinnacle of amateur football. The team’s tradition of excellence and professional organization make the Pioneers a model for other teams to follow.

“The Pioneers that first year, I think we were 7-6. And, still, it was clear this would be a great team,” he said. “Even though we were losing games, the organization never fell apart. There was that drive to get better, week after week.”

He said he can’t wait to get started with the Pioneers.

“Honestly, it’s a little bit of a homecoming. It’s also a challenge for me… it now gives me an opportunity to coach with one of the Midwest’s, if not one of the nation’s, top teams,” Wrich said. “I am really excited to work with Anthony Minus. I am excited about the Pioneers’ history of collaboration.”

Heiser said both coaches will be big contributors to the Pioneers’ continuing efforts to be among the best, if not the best, amateur football teams in the country.

“I think A Minus will do very well for us. He obviously has a lot of experience, coaching at the high school, college and semi-pro levels,” Heiser said. “I expect that our offense will be as good as it has always been with him joining our team.”

About Wrich, Heiser said: “Bryan Wrich gives us another quality coach, another piece to what is, I think, the best offensive staff in the NEFL.”


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