By Cassie Kickert
Preparations continued for the 2014 season Saturday at Bethel University, as players and coaches began focusing on implementing plays and schemes.
Already, there is an early feeling among many that this season could be a special one, reminiscent of 2012 when the Pioneers defense set a league record for fewest points allowed. In addition, then quarterback
Michael Spriggs passed for over 1,000 yards as well en route to several blowouts, including the first game against the Minnesota Sting in St. Paul. The Pioneers won that one 46-0.
Linebacker Phil Breidall was there. In July of 2012, he left to play professionally in Brazil but returned for the National Championship in Daytona Beach. He was back near the top of the team in tackles last season and is ready to work to keep opponents from scoring this season.
When asked how he and fellow linebacker Billy Quistorff are always near the top of the team in tackles, he said,
“We have the mentality to be the best.”
Hopefully, that mentality will be passed on to new Pioneers like nickel cornerback/linebacker Ricky Grier. Grier briefly played for the West Central Broncos of the Midwest Premier Football League (MPFL) and is hoping to play for a junior college in the future.
One area the Pioneers could use some help – if the team hopes to return to the high scoring ways of 2012 – is the offensive line.
Defensive Line/Assistant Head Coach Jim Walsh found the Pioneers one player—a player he used to coach in youth football —Scott Schmidt. In fact, Schmidt, Walsh and Walsh’s son, Seamus, all won a little league championship together. More recently, in 2012, Schmidt played for the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND. He also was a starter for the powerful Cretin-Derham Hall High School football team.
Returning quarterback Cleveland McCoy is excited about the potential of the Pioneers’ offense, especially his receiving corps. After all, everyone knows what running backs Riza Mahmoud and Isaac Odim are capable of doing.
“They all have the potential to do great things,” he said.
In short, this could be the most balanced Pioneers team yet. With offensive lineman Jacob Husnik and defensive linemen Garrett Johnson and Cliff Gordy returning from injury, the Pioneers could dominate the line of scrimmage. But domination requires hard work. So, the Pioneers will continue working next Saturday at Bethel University.