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Monday, December 28, 2015

Pioneers add two new coaches for 2016

The St. Paul Pioneers welcome two new members to our 2016 coaching staff:

Jason Grendzinski: Offensive Assistant

Jason will be coaching running backs and will also help the Pioneers recruit talented players to the organization. He is a 1994 graduate of Thorp (Wis.) High School, where he excelled in three sports. Unfortunately his playing career was cut short due to multiple knee surgeries.

After coaching youth sports in the Blaine/Coon Rapids area for more than 10 years Jason moved to semi-pro football and coached running backs for the Minnesota Spartans in 2012. In 2013, he became the offensive coordinator for the Midwest Nightmare and, in 2014, was promoted to Head Coach. In the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he compiled a record of 12-4. Jason brings energy and enthusiasm to his new role with the Pioneers and he hopes to help St. Paul continue as one of the best amateur football teams in the country.

Jason Casperson: Defensive Assistant

Jason comes to the Pioneers with two years of semi-pro coaching experience and seven years of coaching in youth football, primarily in his hometown of Brooklyn Park, MN, where he won multiple state championships. He brings a passion for excellence and positive energy to his work with the Pioneers secondary.

Away from football, Jason is a sales manager for a local manufacturing company. He is the proud father of two beautiful young ladies – Jordan, 19, and Claire, 14 – and on the weekends, when Jason isn’t coaching football, you can find him cheering on his freshman high school wrestler or supporting his college freshman and her MBI color guard team.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pioneers set first tryout for 2016 season.

As the Pioneers prepare to play for their fourth National Championship, we invite all football players with skill, passion and determination to see if they have what it takes to be a St. Paul Pioneer.

The Pioneers have won six straight NEFL titles and have won National Titles after the 2009, 2012 and 2014 seasons. On Jan. 16th, we travel to Daytona, Fla., to try to win another.

If playing for a National Champion, if playing for a Band of Brothers, appeals to you, come see if you have the right stuff to be a Pioneer.

Registration begins at 2:30 p.m. The tryout will immediately follow the Pioneers' practice. Please wear workout clothing and cleats. It is an aritificial turf field.
Participants will be run through a series of football drills to test speed, agility and football IQ.

Cost is $20 to ALL players trying out who did not finish the season on the Pioneers' active roster.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

St. Paul City Council honors the Pioneers

The Pioneers on Wednesday were honored by the St. Paul City Council for their work in the community and their excellence on the football field.
Thank you Council Member Amy Brendmoen for helping us achieve this honor.
Here is the resolution:
Recognizing the Saint Paul Pioneers Men’s Amateur Football Team for Outstanding Athletic Achievements and Community Service.
WHEREAS, the St. Paul Pioneers were founded in 2002 by local residents in order to allow young men, ages 18 and older, to continue playing full-contact tackle football after high school, and
WHEREAS, the Pioneers have won 10 league championships, two regional championships and three National Championships, and
WHEREAS, the Pioneers recently won the 2015 Northern Elite Football League championship by defeating the Chippewa Valley Predators from Eau Claire, Wis., 33-14, and
WHEREAS, the Pioneers play from late April through mid-August with home games at SeaFoam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul and practice at Jimmy Lee Recreation Center in St. Paul, and
WHEREAS, the team is a 501c3 charitable organization with a mission to, “give back whenever possible through donations and volunteer time” and instructs hundreds of local youth football players at camps each Summer, including an annual free camp at the Saint Paul Municipal Athletics Fields at Rice St. and Arlington Ave.,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Saint Paul Pioneers Men’s Amateur Football Team be recognized by the City Council for their outstanding achievements in athletics and service to the community.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pioneers Ranked Third in Latest NFE National Coaches Poll

As the Pioneers continue to mull our options for a national championship game, we thought we would share the National Top Ten of the National Football Events Coaches Poll.

POLL # 4
1Brooklyn (NY) SeminolesFive Star9-0
2Muskegon (MI) MustangsGreat Lakes11-0
3St Paul (MN) PioneersNorthern Elite13-0
4Albany Metro MallersWorld8-0
5Virginia CrusadersMason Dixon8-0
6Inglewood (CA) BlackhawksLa Belle8-1
7Nashville (TN) StormGridiron Development9-0
8Central Penn (PA) PiranhaWorld6-1
9Detroit (MI) RavensGreat Lakes10-1
10Racine (WI) RaidersMid States12-2

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pioneers jump to quick lead, top Predators for 6th straight NEFL crown

Back, to back, to back, to back, to back, to back.... to back.

Thanks to a punt return touchdown by Joseph Mapson, an interception return touchdown by Travis Griffin, a fumble return touchdown by Terry Jones and a touchdown pass from Cleve McCoy to Juice Akins and a TD by Ronald Zollicoffer, the St. Paul Pioneers topped the Chippewa Valley Predators 33-14 Saturday to win their 6th straight NEFL title, and seventh league championship in a row.

Oh yeah, the Pioneers' Jeff McGaster, named defensive MVP of the league earlier in the day, had three sacks in a dominant performance that had Predators quarterbacks scrambling for their safety. McGaster finished the season with a team-record 20.5 sacks.

With the win, the Pioneers finished their season 13-0 and ranked Number One in the nation in semi-pro football. They will spend the next several weeks expecting an invitation to a National Championship game. The Pioneers have won three national titles since 2009, the last being after last season in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Ronald Zollicoffer
Defense - Jeff McGaster
Special Teams - Joseph Mapson and Emmanuel Marcellino.

It was a good day, as well, for several individual Pioneers to win league honors.

McGaster was named Defensive Player of the Year, as well as All-NEFL.

Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser was named the NEFL Coach of the Year.

Pioneers assistant coach James Walsh was named NEFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

Pioneers President Chris Kelderman was named NEFL Executive of the Year.

Offensive All Stars included:

Riza Mahmoud, running back.
Cleveland McCoy, quarterback
Ronald Zollicoffer, running back and wide receiver
Jacob Husnik, offensive line
CJ Sanderson, offensive line
Delane Woods, wide receiver

Defensive All Stars included:

Jeff McGaster, defensive line
Rob Wills, defensive line

Pioneers named All NEFL Honorable Mention were:

Donte Pettis, defensive back
Lionel Lamarre, defensive back
Scott Schmidt, offensive lineman.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pioneers to take on Predators in quest for 6th NEFL, 7th league title in a row

In case you didn't know, the St. Paul Pioneers are vying for their sixth consecutive NEFL crown -- and seventh straight league title overall -- Saturday when they take on the Chippewa Valley Predators at 6 p.m. at SeaFoam.

Miles scores a touchdown.
Travis Griffin blocks a punt.
The Pioneers defeated the North Bank Bulls 35-7 last weekend in the second round of the NEFL playoffs. Chippewa Valley beat the River Cities Rough Riders in Winona. The teams, frequent foes in the playoffs ever since the Pioneers joined the NEFL in 2010, feature powerful offenses and opportunistic defenses.

St. Paul reached the title game behind the legs of running back Riza Mahmoud, who topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season and scored two touchdowns. He was joined in the end zone by receiver Justin Miles, quarterback Cleve McCoy and receiver Juice Akins.

Players of the Game:
Alex Christen blocks for Mahmoud.

Offense: Riza Mahmoud and the entire offensive line, which did not allow a sack.

Defense: Rob Wills, who had a sack and several quarterback hurries.

Special Teams: Bobby Wright, who made tackles all over the field.

The Pioneers are expecting their biggest crowd of the season Saturday. You will not want to miss this one.

Chippewa Valley is the last NEFL team to defeat St. Paul, in a game in Eau Claire in 2013. The Predators won the league championship, the Elite Bowl, in 2009 -- the same year the Pioneers won the NAFL National Championship before coming to the NEFL.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pioneers to coach at Youth Camp in Blaine

The Pioneers are pleased to once again help coach at the Titan Football Camp in Blaine. Click on the picture for more detail... and we hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pioneers close regular season 11-0, thump Sting

41-0, 11-0, 17.5, 90... 21.

These are the milestone numbers reached by the St. Paul Pioneers Saturday.
They beat the Minnesota Sting 41-0.
With the win, the Pioneers finish the regular season 11-0.
Defensive tackle Jeff McGaster recorded 1.5 sacks, giving him the team's single season record with 17.5.
The Pioneers have now won 90 games since Mark Heiser became head coach in 2008.
St. Paul has now won 21 straight games and a national title since its last loss in the second game of 2014 at Des Moines.

None of it will count for much, however, in the real season -- the playoffs. Pioneers Board Member and former team owner George "Juice" Hall likes to talk about the playoffs being the Pioneers real season. He has a point. Since 2009, St. Paul has not lost a playoff game.

Not one.

But the NEFL playoff road is full of potential potholes. On Aug. 1, the Pioneers will play either the North Bank Bulls or the Minnesota Sting, teams St. Paul has beaten twice each this season. But, you know what they say about beating a team for the third time in a season. It will not be easy. And after that? If the Pioneers survive, they will likely host the NEFL title game, the Elite Bowl, on Saturday Aug. 8, against the winners of a tough and unpredictable Eastern Conference. Potential foes include the Menomonie Thunderhawks, the River Cities Roughriders or the Chippewa Valley Predators, a team hitting its peak at the right time.

We hope to see our fans out in force for the playoffs... our REAL season.

Players of the game:
Offense- Ronald Zollicoffer.
Defense- Jeff McGaster.
Special Teams- John Ostertag.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pioneers, McGaster, continue rolling 47-0 over Thunderhawks

Well, that was fast.

On Saturday at SeaFoam, the fans had barely settled into their seats and the National Anthem was still echoing somewhere when the Pioneers scored their first touchdown – just 19 seconds into the contest against the Menomonie Thunderhawks.

Cleve McCoy hit Juice Akins for two TDs.
Riza Mahmoud, as he has done so often this season, sprinted into the end zone after the offense got a gift from Pioneers safety Joseph Mapson – an interception on the Thunderhawks’ first pass attempt of the game.

Mahmoud’s touchdown run would only open the floodgates, as St. Paul went on to score in myriad ways in a 47-0 win over the visitors from Wisconsin. Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw three touchdown passes – two to Juice Akins and one to Mike Dozier. Ronald Zollicoffer had a punt return for a touchdown. Cornerback Travis Griffin had an interception return for a touchdown. And 
Fullback Daryl Davis had a touchdown run.

Jeff McGaster recorded 2 sacks, leaving him one shy of record.
Along the way, Pioneers defensive tackle Jeff McGaster had 2.5 quarterback sacks, leaving him at 16 sacks for the season – one shy of tying the Pioneers’ single season record of 17. Jeff, who joined the Pioneers in 2008 after playing at the University of Northern Iowa, was the team’s Most Valuable 
Player last season and is continuing his torrid play.

Middle linebacker Bill Quistorff gathered a dozen tackles in a dominating performance by the entire defense. The Thunderhawks crept into the Pioneers’ red zone only once all game, and fell short of scoring on a failed 4th down conversion.

The Pioneers, now 10-0, close out their regular season on Saturday at SeaFoam Stadium against the Minnesota Sting at 5 p.m. Come join us as Jeff chases the sack record and the Pioneers continue to chase a sixth consecutive NEFL Championship.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Juice Akins, with two TD catches.
Defense - Bill Quistorff.
Special Teams - Joseph Mapson and Ronald Zollicoffer.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pioneers team with City of St. Paul to conduct youth football clinic

6th Annual St Paul Pioneers-Capital City Youth Football Clinic

Sat July 18, 2015

Rice & Arlington Sports Complex Turf Field
1500 Rice Street, St Paul MN 55117

Free to Ages: 8-14

To register: Call Municipal Athletics at 651-558-2255

Instructors: Pioneer Semi-Pro Players & Coaches

Learn individual and team techniques on both offense and de­fense. This is a non-padded camp. Shorts & shoes (football or tennis) are required.

Participants will receive 2 free tickets to the
St. Paul Pioneers vs. MN Sting Semi-Pro football game
Saturday July 18
LOCATION: Sea Foam Stadium-Concordia University (281 Hamline Ave)

For more clinic information, contact Pete Globa at peter@pioneersfootball.org
For additional information on Pioneers Football go to www.pioneersfootball.org

Sponsored by Tin Cup's Restaurant

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pioneers are proud members of Visit St. Paul... check us out!

Did you know that the Pioneers are members of Visit St. Paul, the city's convention and visitors' bureau. Did you know we have our own page on their website?
You do now. Please visit... and tell your friends.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pioneers Beat Titans 56-0

It’s starting to look familiar, this territory the St. Paul Pioneers now occupy. It’s looking an awful lot like last year, or, more accurately, 2012, when the team in Cardinal and Black finished its only undefeated season with a national title in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Pioneers have won three national championships -- in 2009, 2012 and 2014. But only one followed an undefeated season. Could this be another?

On Saturday, the Pioneers dispatched an undermanned but feisty Twin Cities Titans squad 56-0 at SeaFoam Stadium in St. Paul. With the win, the Pioneers improved to 9-0 on the season, further distancing themselves from any potential contenders in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL. With only two games to play, and only one against a division opponent, the Pioneers are guaranteed the top seed in the west for the start of the playoffs.

It didn’t take the Pioneers long to exert their will in this one, jumping to a 7-0 lead on a Cleve McCoy to Delane Woods touchdown on St. Paul’s first drive. It would be 14-0 only a minute or so later, as punt returner Ronald Zollicoffer returned a Titans’ kick for a touchdown. Riza Mahmoud made it 21-0 on the next possession, running the ball into the end zone. Mahmoud leads the NEFL in rushing and is once again having a great season for a team that has outscored its opponents 392-77 in 2015.

The defense got in on the scoring again on another Titans punt, this time with linebacker Ernest Tucker returning a fumbled snap by the Titans’ punter for a touchdown.  The former running back from the University of Minnesota-Morris had no trouble figuring out what to do with the ball, as he waltzed into the end zone and increased the lead to 28-0 in the first quarter.

The Titans? They finally earned a first down on the final play of the first quarter. They would not gain another first down until there were about 2 minutes left in the first half. Their struggles were not hard to understand. The team that plays its home games at Robbinsdale Cooper High School traveled to the Pioneers with only 24 players in uniform.

St. Paul continued its march, with quarterback McCoy running it in himself on a draw to stretch the Pioneers’ first-half lead to 35-0. 

Donte Pettis continued his big play ways, recording an interception to set up a Pioneers score and prowling the secondary with ferocity. His pick helped set up another Pioneers score -- McCoy to TE Davarus Branigan to make it 42-0 at the half.

Defensive back Marvin Desir snared an interception to kill any Titans chance to score before halftime.

The second half saw quarterback Bryan Trulen take over for McCoy – and the Pioneers defense continue its domination.

Defensive tackle Jeff McGaster, picked up a half sack to give him a season total of 12.5 sacks. Defensive end Rob Wills also had a sack, after picking up 3.5 last week. Brandon Murdock, another defensive tackle, also had a sack. CJ Sanderson, normally an offensive tackle, got in on the sack parade as well. Linebacker Bill Quistorff and defensive end Alex Folkerds also had a half sack each.

McGaster was having so much fun on defense, he decided to try his hand at offense in the third quarter, bulling into the end zone as a fullback and giving the Pioneers a 49-0 lead.
St. Paul completed its scoring when Trulen hit wideout Mike Dozier on a slant pattern for a 56-0 lead. And defensive tackle Tyrese Brent saved the shutout by blocking a Titans field goal on the last play of the game.

The Pioneers are off now for Independence Day, but return to SeaFoam on July 11 for a noon kickoff against the Menomonie Thunderhawks.

Players of the Game:

Offense - Cleve McCoy, with two td passes and a touchdown on the ground.
Defense - Donte Pettis interception and several tackles.
Special Teams - Demario Walton, with multiple tackles.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pioneers remain perfect after battle of unbeatens

The St. Paul Pioneers improved to 8-0 Saturday by beating the previously undefeated River City Rough Riders 38-10 at Winona, Minn.
Daryl Davis had two rushing TDs.

St. Paul and River City lead the Minnesota and Wisconsin divisions of the Northern Elite Football League.

River City had beaten the Chippewa Valley Predators and the Fox Valley Force on their way to first place. But they could not overcome the visiting Pioneers.

The Pioneers scored first on a Daryl Davis run after a long Cleve McCoy pass to Juice Akins. St. Paul then went up 14-0 after safety Donte Pettis snared a Karl Hoffman pass and weaved his way to paydirt with the pick six.

After a Rough Riders touchdown -- from Hoffman to CJ Woods -- closed the gap to 14-7, an Eric Ellestad field goal stretched the Pioneers lead to 17-7. After that, it was all Pioneers, as McCoy hit Delane Woods with a TD pass, then Justin Miles with another. Davis capped off the scoring with his second touchdown rumble of the day.

St. Paul returns home to SeaFoam Stadium Saturday for a rematch with the Twin Cities Titans. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.

Players of the Game:

Offense - Daryl Davis, with 2 TDs.
Special Teams - Marvin Desir, with several tackles.
Defense - Rob Wills, with 3.5 sacks and Travis Griffin, with 2 interceptions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pioneers still have openings for a couple of linemen

Offensive and defensive linemen ONLY!

If you want to join one of the best semi-pro teams in the country, fill out an online LOI at this site by 11:59 pm Wednesday, June 17 and come to our Thursday practice to tryout .


Last chance for this season. Do it now!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pioneers take control in second half, top Bulls 23-6

George Hall calls the Pioneers offensive line the St. Paul Moving Company.

Jacob Husnik protects Joseph Mapson.
On Saturday, they helped move the team to a 7-0 record and cemented its spot in first place in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL. Playing with Joseph Mapson – a safety – at quarterback because the team’s two signal-callers were out of town, the Pioneers nonetheless controlled the clock, the tempo and the game for great stretches as they defeated the North Bank Bulls 23-6.

Much of that was due to the exertion and coordination displayed by Zac Thompson, Jacob Husnik, C.J. Sanderson, Alex Christen, Scott Schmidt and Cory Huggar – guys who don’t get a lot of attention but are critical to the Pioneers offense succeeding.

Mapson on the move.
Trailing 6-0 after the Bulls first drive, the Pioneers offensive line began exerting its will soon after, leading St. Paul to a Mapson quarterback sneak and a halftime lead of 7-6. In the second half, it was all Pioneers, as fullback Daryl Davis and Mapson, again, scored on runs. The game scoring was tapped off when Jay Harding nailed a 38-yard field goal with, once more, great protection by the offensive line.

Pioneers defenders also rose to the occasion after the Bulls opening salvo. Jeff McGaster picked up his 13th sack on the season so far. Terry Jones early and Brock Keaton late intercepted Bulls quarterback Brett Schreiner to snuff North Bank drives. In the middle, defensive back Bobby Wright stripped a Bulls receiver of the football, taking it and the momentum back to the Pioneers’ side.

Bobby Wright steals the ball.
The Pioneers travel to Winona Saturday to take on the undefeated River City Rough Riders in what is technically a non-league game, but one that will certainly count for bragging rights to the teams that currently lead their divisions in the NEFL. Kickoff is set for Noon.

Players of the game:
Offense – Joseph Mapson, two TDs and great leadership and poise.
Defense – Bobby Wright with a key takeaway and several outstanding tackles.
Special Teams -- Jay Harding, the field goal and several booming kicks.

Jeff McGaster applying pressure.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pioneers top Mankato at SeaFoam 35-16

Woods had two TDs.
It's not often this season that the St. Paul Pioneers feel fortunate to escape with a win.
That's just how the undefeated Pioneers felt Saturday, June 6, though as they topped the Mankato Brawlers 35-16.
Zollicoffer had electrifying return.
The game was much closer than the final score indicates, as Mankato used a stubborn defense and an unpredictable offense to give the Pioneers more than a few fits. The score was tied 8-8 at halftime.

Pioneers quarterback Cleve McCoy hooked up twice with receiver Delane Woods and once with Mike Dozier for touchdown passes. And St. Paul running back Riza Mahmoud helped ice the game late with a darting run. Ronald Zollicoffer, a Concordia University-St. Paul product, returned a punt for a touchdown.

Defensive tackle Jeff McGaster continued his pace to break the Pioneers' single season sack record, picking up four more sacks to give him 12 on the season so far.

Riza iced the game.

Players of the Game
Offense: Jacob Husnik and Riza Mahmoud.
Defense: Jeff McGaster (with 4 sacks).
Special Teams: Ronald Zollicoffer (punt return for a touchdown).
A hard-fought game and much respect to Mankato.

Pioneers back in action, destroy Titans 65-7

Pioneers destroy the Titans 65-7.
Here is the anatomy of a 65-7 game:
Cleve McCoy to Ronald Zollicoffer ... 7-0.
Jeff McGaster sack.
Riza Mahmoud rushing TD... 14-0.
Travis Griffin returns blocked punt... 21-0.
Lionel Lamarre interception.
Daryl Davis TD run.... 28-0.
Vernon Johnson TD run... 35-0.
Rob Wills interception.
Riza Mahmoud TD run, 42-0.
Larry Moore pick six... 49-0.
Travis Griffin interception.
Vernon Johnson TD run.... 56-0.
Safety, Rob Wills.. 58-0.
Titans return fumble for TD... 58-7.
Jeff McGaster sack.
Donte Pettis pick six ... 65-7
Players of the game:
Special teams - Emmanuel Marcellino.
Offense - Riza Mahmoud.
Defense - Rob Wills.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pioneers defense, special teams help overwhelm Sting

Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw two touchdown passes -- one to Delane Woods and one to Davarus Branigan -- and the Pioneers' defense and special teams got in on the scoring in a 31-7 victory over the Minnesota Sting at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Cleve McCoy on the run.
Linebacker Dominique Young and defensive tackle Brandon Murdock scored second half touchdowns -- Young's on a blocked punt and Murdock's on a fumble return -- to help the Pioneers pull away in the second half. St. Paul led 10-0 at halftime.

Kicker Eric Ellestad nailed a 35-yard field goal for the Pioneers' other points.

The Sting scored their points on an interception return for a touchdown.

Delane Woods with the touchdown.
St. Paul is now off for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and will resume play May 30th, with an away game against the Twin Cities Titans. The Pioneers are now 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the NEFL.

Eric Elleson hits a field goal.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Riza Mahmoud, running back.
Defense - Brandon Murdock.
Special Teams - Dominique Young.

Donte Pettis rips the ball away.

Brandon Murdock and Dominique Young.

Jeff McGaster greets a fan.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pioneers top Bulls 44-18 in league opener

At the end of the first quarter Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneers were in unfamiliar territory.

They were losing, 6-0 to a physical and determined North Bank Bulls squad.

McCoy hit Miles for two TDs.
That unfamiliar feeling would not last. Cleve McCoy, the Pioneers’ do-everything quarterback, would go on to throw five touchdown passes and the Pioneers’ defense, led by swarming safeties Donte Pettis and Joseph Mapson, would batter and harass the Bulls along the way to a 44-18 victory in Cottage Grove.

North Bank battled all game long, showing an effective passing attack – when quarterback Brett Schreiner wasn’t picking himself up from the turf after a sack or a hit by Jeff McGaster, Antonio O’Neil, Rob Wills, Caleb Huls or Brandon Murdock. But, in the end, St. Paul got the ball back enough times, with multiple interceptions by Pettis and Mapson, to let McCoy and the offense go to work.

Johnson scored a rushing TD.
McCoy, who played collegiately at South Carolina State, has so far this season continued his impressive play from the national championship game in Daytona last January. He hit receivers Justin Miles and Delane Woods with two touchdown passes each and tossed another to Wills. McCoy finished the game 20 of 28 passing, for 334 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Woods finished with 4 receptions for 149 yards and the two scores. Miles had 3 receptions for 71 yards and two scores.

Kicker Eric Ellestad, a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher, hit a 23-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

Running back Vernon Johnson scored on a run late in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on the victory.

The game was St. Paul’s league opener. The Pioneers are now 3-0 on the 2015 season, 1-0 in the always-tough Northern Elite Football League.

Players of the Game:
Offense – Receiver Tristan Smith, who had six receptions for 62 yards in his best game as a Pioneer.
Defense – Donte Pettis, who had two interceptions (one called back) and multiple big hits.

Special Teams – Vince Furby, with a couple of long kick returns.

Please join the Pioneers next week as they travel to East Ridge High School in Woodbury to take on the Minnesota Sting.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pioneers Top Blaze in early battle of National Champions

They hadn't lost a game in four years - including beating the Pioneers once in each of the past two seasons.

But the Des Moines Blaze was facing a determined St. Paul squad Saturday in the third annual Capital City Classic.

After all, it was last year's loss in Des Moines that propelled the Pioneers to reel off 11 straight wins, capture a fifth straight NEFL title and a third National Championship.
Ronald Zollicoffer had two scores.

St. Paul defeated Des Moines 21-7, relying on a suffocating defense and a workmanlike offense in a showdown of two of the nation's best semipro football teams.

Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw two touchdown passes, to Delane Woods and Ronald Zollicoffer, and the Pioneers' defense kept the Blaze offense out of the end zone.

Coaches Randy Johnson and Kahn Powell

Check back here for a more detailed story and game stats later this week.

Players of the Game:
Offense - McCoy.
Defense - Strong safety Donte Pettis (int, sack).
Special teams - Joseph Mapson.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pioneers overwhelm Renegades 79-6 in opener

Ronald Zollicoffer on the run.
Ronald Zollicoffer scored three touchdowns, the Pioneers defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and St. Paul scored 72 unanswered points to defeat the Granite City Renegades 79-6.

It didn't take long for the Pioneers to repeat their most lethal connection through the air, as quarterback Cleve McCoy hit Delane Woods with a TD pass on the Pioneers' first drive after the Pioneers defense forced a three and out.

As the scoring orgy continued, McCoy hit Justin Miles with a 50-yard TD strike, Lamarre and linebacker Corey Lane Brenner had pick sixes, Riza Mahmoud and Vernon Johnson notched rushing touchdowns and backup QB Bryen Trulen hit Mike Dozier with a late td pass.

The Pioneers finished the game with no punts and no turnovers.

A great way to kick off the season. But the task gets much tougher this week, as the Pioneers will host the Des Moines Blaze at SeaFoam Stadium. The Blaze have beaten the Pioneers two straight seasons and have won 48 straight games.

Please join us at 7 p.m. for what is sure to be an epic contest.

Players of the game:

Offense - Ronald Zollicoffer.

Defense - Lionel Lamarre (2 ints).

Special Teams - Bobby Wright and Eric Ellestad (field goal and 10 extra points).

Bobby Wright with award.
Lionel Lamarre after a pick six.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pioneers seeking interns, volunteer coordinator

St. Paul Pioneers Interns Needed
The St. Paul Pioneers, an amateur men’s full-contact football team based in St. Paul, is seeking committed, energetic and responsible individuals to serve as game day operations and marketing interns for our 2015 season.
The Pioneers, founded in 2002, are a 501c3 charitable organization, run by a volunteer board of directors. Internships with the Pioneers are not paid positions, but interns for the Pioneers have earned college credit for their work with the team.
Interns will receive free team apparel and receive free admission to Pioneers home games.
St. Paul has won three national championships and the last five Northern Elite Football League championships. Our players come from area colleges and high schools and are not paid to play. They play for the love of the game.
Intern duties include any of the following, depending on interest, experience and need:
• Helping with game-day set up and take-down.
• Distributing and collecting game uniforms.
• Assisting on the sidelines and in the press box during games.
• Reaching out to the community and potential sponsors to support Pioneers football.
The Pioneers play a Spring/Summer game schedule, with Saturday afternoon games starting at the end of April and running through mid-August. The Pioneers play home games at SeaFoam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul.
Interested? Contact Pioneers Vice President Peter Globa at peter@pioneersfootball.org or call Pete at 612-414-5705.

St. Paul Pioneers Volunteer Coordinator Needed
The St. Paul Pioneers, an amateur men’s full-contact football team based in St. Paul, is seeking a committed, energetic and mature individual to serve as game day Volunteer Coordinator for our 2015 season.
The Pioneers, founded in 2002, are a 501c3 charitable organization, run by a volunteer board of directors. The Volunteer Coordinator is not a paid position, but works with a team of volunteers to ensure that the Pioneers game-day experience is positive and fun for our fans, families and friends. The Volunteer Coordinator joins an all-volunteer organization of coaches, players, board members and interns who love the game of football and enjoy being part of a winning team and a family friendly organization.
The Volunteer Coordinator will receive free team apparel and free admission to Pioneers home games.
St. Paul has won three national championships and the last five Northern Elite Football League championships. Our players come from area colleges and high schools and are not paid to play. They play for the love of the game.
Volunteer Coordinator duties include:
• Scheduling game-day volunteers to ready the field for games, take tickets, distribute uniforms, help with fan relations and assist in game-day operations.
• The volunteer coordinator should enjoy working in a family friendly, collaborative environment.
• Ensure that the Pioneers always have enough volunteers to create a fun game-day experience for our fans, families and friends.
The Pioneers play a Spring/Summer game schedule, with Saturday afternoon games starting at the end of April and running through mid-August. The Pioneers play home games at SeaFoam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul.
Interested? Contact Pioneers Vice President Peter Globa at peter@pioneersfootball.org or call Pete at 612-414-5705.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pioneers open new fan store, a great place to get your team gear!

We are offering a brand new Pioneers team store, with more selection for our female fans. The store runs now through April 10. At the close of the store, orders will ship and deliver within 3-4 weeks.
STEP 1: Go to lidsteamsports.com on or after the start date listed above.
STEP 2: Click on "Flash Stores"
STEP 3: Type in the flash store code stpaul2015 and click
"Submit Code"
STEP 4: Select team merchandise and add to shopping cart.
STEP 5: Once shopping is complete, click on "Checkout" and either register as a new
customer or log in with previously registered information.
*PLEASE NOTE - Orders must be completed on or before the End Date listed.
E-MAIL QUESTIONS TO: ContactLTS@lids.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

PIONEERS to hold 2-day Mini-camp March 28-29

The Pioneers will hold their annual mini-camp to form their 2015 roster on March 28-29 at St. Paul's McMurray Field. This is a full-contact mini-camp and by invitation only.

Players who finished the 2014 season on the active roster and those prospective players who have been invited to attend are expected to participate both days.

Prospective players should wear full football gear. There will be contact drills and scrimmaging both days.

The mini-camp is free to all returning players and invitees who attended one of three earlier tryouts. Those who wish to play but have not attended a tryout must contact the coaching staff and be invited to attend. Cost to new players who have not attended a previous tryout is $20.

McMurray is an artificial turf field. We will practice rain or shine.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three times the charm: Pioneers Win Third National Championship in Daytona

Thomas Broussard made an inspiring visit.

Teammates react to Broussard. (Photos by Marla Collins)
 If the surprise appearance of Big Tee didn’t ensure the St. Paul Pioneers defeated the Texas Bullets, the iron will of quarterback Cleve McCoy, wide receiver Delane Woods and the Pioneers’ defense damn sure did.

McCoy on the move.
In a dominant performance by the Pioneers offense, defense and special teams, St. Paul won its third national championship since 2009 – and second in the past three seasons – by rolling over the higher-ranked Bullets 41-14 in the USA Bowl Spring/Summer National Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Pioneers received a gigantic emotional boost at the start of the game with the appearance of lineman Thomas Broussard and his family. Broussard had recently been hospitalized with kidney failure and will probably need a kidney transplant. His visit to Florida was an unexpected joy to the 40-plus Pioneers who made the trip.

McCoy and company then made sure the happiness continued.

Juice Akins scored first Pioneers TD.
The South Carolina State graduate passed for more than 250 yards, threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more. Woods, in his first game back after breaking his collarbone earlier in the season, had more than 125 yards and a touchdown receiving, often keeping drives alive with clutch catches at the chains before striking the Bullets deep with a 4th down touchdown reception to end the first half.

Woods' touchdown to close first half.
And the Pioneers defense? Tasked with slowing the nation’s top quarterback and the Semi-Pro Offensive Player of the Year, the Pioneers defense not only got in the Bullets’ way – they nearly slammed the door shut. Texas, in running up its record to 17-0, averaged more than 40 points a game coming into the USA Bowl. St. Paul held them to 14 points. And with three interceptions, three sacks and a fumble recovery by the kickoff team, the Pioneers kept Texas from ever posing a threat.

The score was 14-0 Pioneers after the first quarter; 27-7 at halftime and 41-14 with five minutes left to play. Each time the Bullets scored, the Pioneers answered to keep momentum.

It started with linebacker Corey Brenner’s acrobatic interception on Bullets’ quarterback Justin Willis’ first pass of the game. It continued with interceptions by safeties Terry Jones and Jake Lindsey that snuffed out Bullets’ drives. And all game long, the Pioneers’ defensive line harassed and battered Willis, sacking him three times – Rob Wills, Jeff McGaster and Brandon Murdock recorded sacks – and putting him on the ground more times than could be counted.

Brenner set the stage with pick.
That was the strategy, defensive coach Jim Walsh said. “Willis was the playmaker of their offense. They ran everything through him. If we could control and contain him, we had a chance to win.”

When it looked as if the Bullets would score to narrow St. Paul’s 14-0 lead, defensive tackle Jeff McGaster snuffed out the threat. Texas had a 4th and 1 at the St. Paul 6-yard line and seemed poised for a touchdown when McGaster, the Pioneers MVP for 2014, blasted through the guard-center gap and tackled the Bullets’ ball carrier for a 3-yard loss.

Jeff McGaster stuffed Bullets' best chance.
Texas would score once more, in the second half, but they never really threatened again. Using a controlled pass rush that sought to keep Willis penned in, the Pioneers kept him from hurting them with big plays. Pioneers linebackers – Bill Quistorff, Brenner, John Robinson and Tierre Thompson – were mostly kept in coverage and asked to pursue sideline to sideline.
They did their job well.

Willis had two touchdown passes in the game. He had thrown for more than 40 during the season.

But the Pioneers’ offense proved dominant as well.

From the start, McCoy’s play was crisp and his decision-making decisive. He threw receivers open, hitting his spots with great accuracy. And when the pass was not there, he ran and hurt the Bullets with his legs.

Brandon Murdock and Devin Waters applied pressure.
Woods, in his first game back after breaking his collar bone during the regular season, looked like an NFL receiver all night. He ran great routes, came back to McCoy when the quarterback was in trouble or, as on the last play of the first half, simply streaked past the supposedly speedier Bullet defensive backs.

Woods and McCoy were named the game’s most valuable players by the USA Bowl.
But there was plenty of credit to go around. Running backs Isaac Odim, who had a touchdown run and a touchdown reception, and Riza Mahmoud, who tallied nearly 100 yards, were their clock-eating, defense bruising selves all game. Running behind fullbacks Daryl Davis and Andy Folz and a physical offensive line, Mahmoud and Odim kept the Bullets from keying on the passing attack.
Receiver Donte Pettis played both offense and defense, grabbing passes for key first downs and stopping Bullets’ receivers as a nickel back.
Heiser added another national title.

Juice Akins, a fleet receiver who was new to the Pioneers in 2014, caught McCoy’s first touchdown pass of the game to give St. Paul a 7-0 lead. Odim caught McCoy’s last touchdown pass of the game on a swing pass to close out the scoring and ensure that Head Coach Mark Heiser got his third Gatorade bath in a national championship game.

Heiser took over as head coach for the 2008 season. The Pioneers won national titles in 2009, 2012 and, now, 2014.

Kicker John Ostertag was named special teams player of the game, although other players made key contributions – including Vernon Johnson’s forced fumble that Davarus Branigan recovered to set up the Pioneers’ second touchdown.

“This really was a complete victory, by our entire team,” Heiser said afterwards. Missing several starters in key positions on defense, the Pioneers had to improvise and use players – such as tight ends Rob Wills and Eric Baumgartner – on defense.
Odim running hard.
“They really came through for us,” Heiser said.

Bill Quistorff held down the middle on D.

Mahmoud and Woods were impact players.
Jones had a pick to kill a Bullets drive.

Final score.