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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.