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Monday, June 30, 2014

Pioneers Outplay Sting in Woodbury

By Cassie Kickert

On a day filled with rain, in a season seemingly dominated by rain, the St. Paul Pioneers used the strong legs of their running backs and the power of their offensive line and defense to top the Minnesota Sting in a battle for first place in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL.

The outcome of the game – a 41-12 Pioneers victory – not only wrapped up the division for St. Paul, but it had implications for farther down the road in the playoffs as well. The Pioneers are now two games ahead of the Sting in the standings, important for playoff seeding. But the Pioneers also are keeping an eye on the Fox Valley Force in Wisconsin for the number one seed in the NEFL. As a result, extra importance is attached to every point scored and allowed from this point on.

The Pioneers running game – and defense – took care of the Sting.

Devin Waters recovers a fumble.
Despite the rain, running back Ronald Zollicoffer ran the Sting’s first punt all the way back for a touchdown. Then, the Sting made a mistake. They fumbled and Pioneers defensive lineman Devin Waters snatched the ball off the ground. His fumble recovery led to another touchdown – another run, this time by fullback Daryl Davis. Just like that, the score was 13-0 Pioneers.

Then, it was time for running back Isaac Odim to do what he does best —run straight through the defense for yet another Pioneers touchdown. The Sting would squeeze in a field goal before halftime after a Pioneers fumble.

Odim kept the motor going in the third quarter when he ran about 70 yards for another touchdown. The Sting would come back with a score of their own, courtesy of Jauhem Byrd.

How does Odim dominate game after game?  Odim gives credit to his offensive line.
“I say this was the best game they’ve {the offensive line} had all year.  They were doing a great job opening holes.  As a running back, if you’re not getting touched until you get to the linebackers, that’s always a good thing.  {Tonight} we were able to consistently pound the ball.”

Isaac Odim finds room to run.
About halfway through the third quarter, a bad snap on a Pioneers punt gave the Sting a safety. Then, the score was 27-12. The Sting would not score again, thanks to the Pioneers defense. The defensive line -- Jeff McGaster, Ed Smith, Waters, Wes Gadient and Brandon Murdock – hammered and harassed the Sting all game long.
In the fourth quarter, running back Riza Mahmoud decided not to let Odim have all the fun. Mahmoud dashed to the end zone on a draw play. And, then, it was Odim’s turn to put up the final points with the last of his three touchdowns. The final score: 41-12 Pioneers.

Odim said the Pioneers’ rivalry with the Minnesota Sting is “definitely a good one.  I’m glad we were able to step up in the fourth quarter and finish it out.”
The win was the Pioneers’ second over the Sting this season. St. Paul beat them earlier at SeaFoam Stadium 49-20. In three games against the Sting, dating back to the 2012 season, the Pioneers have outscored them 136-32.

Odim gained 239 yards on 23 carries. He now has 840 yards and 15 touchdowns in all games this season. He and Pioneers back Riza Mahmoud, who has 659 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns, lead the NEFL
The offensive line -- CJ Sanderson, Zac Thompson, Cory Huggar, Thomas Broussard, Scott Schmidt, Shannon Johnson, Alex Christen, Tyrese Brent and Jose Munguia – earned praise from Head Coach Mark Heiser.

“Our line played great,” he said. “When we needed them to step up, they had a monster game.”

The Pioneers are off for the fourth of July.  But they are now looking for a new opponent to play at Sea Foam Stadium July 12, after the Cedar Valley Charge had to cancel their trip to Minnesota. Any team willing to play is asked to contact Pioneers Head Coach/General Manager Mark Heiser at mark@pioneersfootball.org. Or call 651-300-4365.
Players of the game:
Offense- Isaac Odim.
Defense- Devin Waters.
Special Teams- Ronald Zellicoffer.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Scoring Party in St. Paul

By Cassie Kickert

St. Paul Pioneers Quarterback Cleveland McCoy has been talking about getting the offense into an early rhythm all season. Saturday against the North Bank Bulls, it did exactly that. The Pioneers scored 58 points and literally ran the Bulls out of St. Paul.

Ed Smith, Jake Lindsey and Jake Muellner catch their breath.
Although the offense did score early, they weren’t the first to score. Who was, you ask? That would be star defensive back/returner Lionel Lamarre, who returned the opening kickoff almost the length of the field for a touchdown. McCoy and the Pioneers offense were right behind him. It took just five offensive plays for the Pioneers to score again. They did it in spectacular fashion too when McCoy threw a dart to Delane Woods, who used his speed to reach end zone.

The Bulls, however, did not back down, scoring a touchdown of their own. Bulls quarterback Brett Schreiner carried his team with a couple long runs to the Pioneers two yard line. A short pass into the end zone and a missed extra point left the Bulls trailing 14-6.

Head Coach Mark Heiser.
That left a bad taste in the mouths of Pioneers coaches and players. That would be the Bulls’ last score of the game.

Linebacker Shaye Thomas and Lamarre had this to say about the play:

“We let our guard down for one play in the first half. The second half we tightened down and didn’t give up any points after that,” Thomas said.

Lamarre added, “We like to pride ourselves on playing disciplined every play. It was just a blown coverage.”

The Pioneers’ running game then joined the scoring party as the next two touchdowns would come via the running game. First, newcomer Daryl Davis took one in from four yards out. Then, Isaac Odim scored the Pioneers last offensive touchdown before halftime when he jumped over the pile and fell into the end zone.

Odim’s high-flying touchdown made the score 28-6. But the score at halftime was 36-6. What else happened? After Odim’s touchdown, kicker Jay Harding’s kickoff landed in the end zone. For some reason, the Bulls did not down the ball. Defensive lineman Jake Muellner picked up the ball for the score. On the extra point, running back Riza Mahmoud ran in a high snap for a two-point conversion.

Donte Pettis.
The Pioneers were clicking in all phases — offense, defense and special teams. The defense had two interceptions, courtesy of linebacker Billy Quistorff and defensive back Nate Beulah. The special teams played well all game, with Harding being named special teams player of the game for filling in as long snapper on punts and extra points, as John Ostertag handled those duties.

McCoy, after putting his running ability on display, hit receiver Donte Pettis for a touchdown in the third quarter.

As the fourth quarter began, the Pioneers continued their dominance when quarterback Bryan Trulen handed off to Vernon Johnson. Johnson did the rest, running in for yet another Pioneers touchdown. Mahmoud then ran in another two point conversion, making the score 51-6. The final member of the scoring party Saturday was newcomer running back Ronald Zollicoffer when he ran in the Pioneers last touchdown of the day.
How did the Pioneers get into an early offensive rhythm?

Pettis said it’s all about communication.

“We’ve been playing together for a while now. It’s hard to do it right away in the beginning of the season. Today, we were all on the same page… Communication is always the key,” he said.

He said communication will be important again next week in the rematch against the Minnesota Sting. For the defense, tackling will be the key according to Thomas, who said they’re going to bring the “hit stick”.

Players of the game.
Offense: Daryl Davis
Defense: Devin Waters
Special Teams: Jay Harding
Players of the Game.

We hope you’ll join us for all the action in Woodbury’s East Ridge High School this coming Saturday, June 28, starting at 7:30pm for what is sure to be an exciting game. The next Pioneers home game at Concordia is Saturday, July 12 against the Cedar Valley Charge.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Pioneers welcome a new sponsor... our guys could use a Picky Housekeeper!

The Pioneers are proud to welcome the Picky Housekeeper as a 2014 sponsor.

Contact Shaina for all your cleaning needs. 651-788-3564.

Email: Slrolow@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pioneers win again, beat outnumbered Rage

St. Paul Pioneers running back Isaac Odim might be the best player who never talks about himself.


Odim lets his play do the talking.
Check that. The Pioneers have another running back who doesn't say much, simply letting his play do the talking. Riza Mahmoud.

Both running backs were on full display Saturday, joining in with a punishing, unrelenting defense to throttle the undermanned Lake Superior Rage 42-12, helping the Pioneers stay in first place in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL.

Odim, who starred at the University of Minnesota Duluth, had 123 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries to pace the Pioneers offense. Mahmoud, a former North Dakota player, was not far behind, gaining 88 yards and scoring a touchdown rushing and another on a kick return. Both backs have been dominant all season, working behind a seasoned offensive line. On Saturday, though, they picked it up a notch.

Mahmoud always plays well against the Rage.
Both teams were short players for this game. The Pioneers defense, which allowed only one touchdown on the day, brought only 17 players north. The Rage, fighting shorthanded all season, ended the game with only 17 players total.

"I was really, really proud of how our defense picked up their swagger and dominated," said Jim Walsh, the Pioneers defensive line coach and fill-in defensive coordinator Saturday. "But I was also very impressed with how hard the Rage battled and never gave up."

Lake Superior battled indeed, trailing the Pioneers by only 14-6 at halftime. The second half, through, would be a different story. The Rage would score again, on a return of an attempted onside kick, but otherwise would not threaten in the second half. St. Paul rode touchdowns by Odim, Mahmoud, fullback Andy Folz and running back Vernon Johnson in taking over the game in the second half.

The Pioneers defense was smothering. Safeties Nate Beulah and Jake Lindsey grabbed interceptions. Linebacker Bill Quistorff led the unit emotionally, seemingly covering the entire field. Linebackers Darrel Young and Phil Breidall also played well.

Please join the Pioneers Saturday at SeaFoam Stadium as they take on the North Bank Bulls in a rematch of an earlier Pioneers victory in Cottage Grove. The game will be Girl Scouts Day for the Pioneers, and all Girl Scouts will be admitted free of charge. Kickoff at Concordia University-St. Paul is set for 5 p.m.

Players of the Game:

Offense: Odim.
Defense: Quistorff.
Special Teams: Ronald Zollicoffer.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Please Join Us for Our Third Annual Bowling Fundraiser!

WE are sure to have an amazing time on Friday, June 20, at Midway Pro Bowl, as the Pioneers host their third annual Bowling Fundraiser. Please come and share in the fun!

Come and join the St. Paul Pioneers as we host our annual bowling fundraiser. For only $15, you will get three games and free shoe rental.

Childen 10 and under are free! Kids 11 and up only $5.

We will have great prizes, raffles and amazing items to auction, including two tickets to a Minnesota Twins game in the glitzy Champions Club, featuring all the free food and snacks you care to enjoy... and right behind home plate.

This fundraiser helps us cover the cost of the upcoming playoffs and beyond. We welcome players, staff, volunteers, fans, friends and family. ALL ARE WELCOME!

1556 UNIVERSITY AVENUE (just blocks from Sea Foam Stadium)
When: FRIDAY, JUNE 20TH 7-10PM

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Battle for first is no contest, Pioneers overpower Sting

The Beginning of a Rivalry?

By Cassie Kickert

Emotions and energy were abundant in the hours and minutes prior to kick off Saturday against the Minnesota Sting at Seafoam Stadium. Why? Because this game would decide first place in the NEFL’s Minnesota Division.

In addition, Michael Spriggs was the opposing quarterback. Spriggs was a quarterback on the 2009 Pioneers National Championship team. Then, he and his family moved away for a few years. Upon relocating to Minnesota again in 2012, he rejoined the Pioneers. Again, the team went on to win the National Championship, this time against the North Texas Longhorns in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Last year, after arm injuries forced Spriggs to quit, the Pioneers found they had a talented quarterback in Cleveland McCoy. The team didn’t miss a beat, winning every game after McCoy became the starter except one against the rival Predators in Eau Claire. The Pioneers went on to win their fourth NEFL championship in a row.

When Spriggs is at his best, though, he’s hard to bring down and intercept, as the Pioneers were about to find out. Did that stop the Pioneers from winning? Hardly.

Mahmoud fights for yards
Running back Isaac Odim, who was on the 2012 team with Spriggs, reminded Spriggs and the Sting what he can do when he ran 34 yards for the game’s first score. After Phil Breidall recovered a Sting fumble, fellow running back Riza Mahmoud, and the Pioneers sideline with him, ran 81 yards for another touchdown.

When asked how the play happened, Mahmoud said it was a designed play and it worked out great.
“It was a halfback counter and it worked out beautifully. The line did a beautiful job, the fake was wonderful and it just played out well. We got the touchdown. You couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.

Meanwhile, to further baffle Spriggs and the Sting, defensive lineman Ed Smith sacked Spriggs for a loss of seven.

Then, one of Spriggs’ favorite receivers when he was a Pioneer, Delane Woods, waited in the end zone as McCoy’s pass floated right into his arms. The Pioneers sideline erupted with cheers as the score was now 21-0 Pioneers.

McCoy’s next weapon of choice was tight end Robert Wills. McCoy tossed him a short pass, which he then ran into the end zone for yet another touchdown.

To leave no doubt who was in charge, as the clock ran down toward halftime, cornerback Brock Keaton caught the only Spriggs interception of the game. The score at halftime: 28-0 Pioneers.

The blowout continued in the third quarter when McCoy ran in a touchdown himself. 35 points wasn’t enough for McCoy, though. He threw to receiver Reggie Houston in stride for another Pioneers touchdown. At this point, the score was 42-0 Pioneers.

Defensive lineman Kirk Eggleston put an exclamation point on the apparent rout when he pounded Spriggs to the ground.

Lamarre returns punt for TD
But the Pioneers couldn’t count the Sting out just yet. Just when the game appeared out of reach, they scored. The aforementioned sack didn’t phase Spriggs. He got right back up and threw a touchdown pass to receiver Jauhem Byrd. Byrd also caught Spriggs’ next pass – off a deflection by linebacker Corey Brenner – to complete a two point conversion and give the Sting their first eight points of the game.

What changed defensively that the Pioneers allowed the Sting to score? According to Ed Smith, the Sting caught the Pioneers in a bad position and Byrd had the talent to take advantage of it.

Wills scores on a seam route
“They got a nice long, deep ball and [Byrd] made an athletic play and scored a touchdown,” he said.

Indeed, it was Byrd’s turn to demonstrate just how talented he is.

Just a few minutes later, Spriggs threw to Byrd again for another touchdown. This time, though, the two point conversion didn’t work. With about two and a half minutes left in the game, defensive back Lionel Lamarre returned a Sting punt for a touchdown to diffuse some of the Sting’s late momentum. However, this one was followed by a Sting kickoff return for a touchdown by, you guessed it, Jauhem Byrd.

The final score: 49-20 Pioneers. Spriggs and the Sting came back but, in the end, it wasn’t enough. This Saturday, the Pioneers travel to Duluth to face the Lake Superior Rage. Next week, they come home to Concordia to take on the North Bank Bulls. Game time is 5pm. Hope you can join us!
Players of the game: Wright, McCoy and Thomas.

Players of the Game were:
Offense: Cleveland McCoy
Defense: Shaye Thomas
Special Teams: Bobby Wright.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Keaton, Pioneers Pound Titans

By Cassie Kickert

The Pioneers and Titans only played one half of a game Saturday in Mounds View. One half was all it took.
Despite severe weather shortening the game, the Pioneers still put on quite a show – on offense and defense – winning 34-0 to go to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the NEFL.

DE Devin Waters and the Pioneers defense dominated.
 It started,with the defense. On the second play of the game, defensive lineman Jeff McGaster intercepted Titans quarterback Shanon Capers and took it in for a touchdown. It was McGaster’s third interception as a Pioneer, but first touchdown off a pick.

All game long, the Pioneers defense harassed Capers. Defensive end Devin Waters ended drives and snuffed Titans’ chances with three sacks on the day. Cornerback Brock Keaton, named defensive player of the game, had two acrobatic interceptions, giving him three picks in five games this season.

Keaton has been a nemesis for opposing offenses in 2014, breaking up numerous passes and generally making life miserable for opposing receivers. Thanks to his exploits Saturday, he is tied for the league lead in interceptions. On Saturday, Keaton basically stole the ball from the Titans receiver for his first interception in the game.

Brock Keaton had two interceptions in the game.
When Keaton was asked how he ripped the ball out, he just said he wanted it more. He was hungry for the ball. In addition, he gives credit for his play to his teammates and said that “we are working really well together.”

Taking advantage of field position, turnovers and a physical game plan, the Pioneers offense found a spark of its own – mainly in its running game, courtesy of running backs Isaac Odim and Riza Mahmoud and an offensive line that played with aggression and passion.

After numerous runs got the Pioneers into the Red Zone, quarterback Cleveland McCoy found Damien Lolar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

On the next Pioneers possession, Mahmoud scored on a dash up the middle to make the score 21-0 Pioneers at the end of the first quarter. Mahmoud, who had more than 100 yards on the ground in just the half, was named offensive player of the game.

Offensive Coordinator Anthony Minus had his squad clicking.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers got back to work. After a rare Pioneers turnover, defensive back Lionel Lamarre took the ball right back with his first interception of the season. The Pioneers took advantage when Odim ran in for another touchdown. Since rejoining the Pioneers, Odim, like Keaton, has been on a tear. Thus far this season, Odim already has seven touchdowns along with 332 yards rushing on just 36 carries.

When asked how he stayed in such great shape while taking a year off to pursue a graduate degree, Odim said:
Isaac Odim escapes.

“Fitness is a passion of mine, so I continued to work out even when I wasn’t playing for the Pioneers. I played some flag football in my free time too, and once I came back to Minneapolis, I got back into some more football-specific training to get ready for the season. I want[ed] to stay injury-free and improve my explosiveness, so that’s what most of my training [was] geared toward.”

After the Titans went nowhere on their next possession, Mahmoud decided it was time to stretch his legs. He returned the Titans punt all the way for another touchdown. A bad snap caused a missed extra point, however, making the score 34-0 Pioneers.

LB Tierre Thompson was named special teams player of the game.
The rain and lightning took over at that point. Once Pioneers coaches, players and staff saw lightning, the only prevailing thought was to get to halftime. By league rules, if a game is called before halftime, it is ruled a ‘no contest’. If it’s called at or after halftime, the Pioneers could claim the victory.

As a result, making it to halftime became the goal. The final score: 34-0 Pioneers.

Next, the Pioneers face the Minnesota Sting and former Pioneer quarterback Michael Spriggs at Seafoam Stadium this Saturday, June 7th. The winner will claim sole possession of first place in the Minnesota Division. It is sure to be a spectacular game! Hope to see you all there!