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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pioneers announce exciting changes to coaching staff for 2018

Some teams use the offseason to tweak their coaching staff.
The St. Paul Pioneers are super-charging theirs.
Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser, who has won eight league championships and three national titles since taking the St. Paul helm in 2008, on Tuesday announced several impressive additions as well as new roles for some coaches from last season.
Ben Campbell, a longtime Pioneers defensive back and special teams stalwart, joins the coaching staff as Assistant Head Coach, Special Teams Coordinator and defensive backs coach after coaching with the Minnesota Brawlers in 2017.
Jason Grendzinski will be the Pioneers Defensive Coordinator in 2018, after serving as the team’s defensive backs coach in 2017. Grendzinski is also the team’s Recruiting Coordinator.
Bryan Wrich was officially named the Pioneers’ Offensive Coordinator, essentially filling the role he performed all last season and Rob Neumann, who once ran the Pioneers offense, rejoins the squad in 2018 as an offensive assistant.
Dave Ladd, the Pioneers’ linebackers coach in 2017, will fill the same role in 2018.
Devin Waters, who spent several seasons helping the Pioneers’ defensive line terrorize opposing quarterbacks, will move over to the coaching ranks in 2018 as the Pioneers’ new defensive line coach. And Shannon Johnson, who won several national championships as a tough-as-nails center on the Pioneers offensive line, will serve as the team’s offensive line coach this season after serving in the same role with the Brawlers in 2017.
John Nelson returns to coach Pioneers quarterbacks in 2018, after serving the same role in 2017.
And Damien Rochon Washington, who also won several national championships as a wide receiver and was named to the team’s Hall of Fame after a stellar career as an original Pioneer, becomes the team’s wide receivers coach in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pioneers name new board members

Few things stay the same. Even for the St. Paul Pioneers, seven-time champions of the Northern Elite Football League.
At the Pioneers Board of Directors annual meeting Sunday, the Pioneers welcomed three new board members and said goodbye to three others.
New to the Pioneers board in 2018 are Ben Campbell, Bryan Wrich and Deb Wrich.
Stepping down from the board were Team President Pete Globa and team treasurer James Walsh. Board member Rick Barrett, who moved out of state, also was removed from the board.
The board also held an election to name new board officers. They are:
Team President Dan “Doc” Piper.
Team Vice President George “Juice” Hall.
Team Treasurer Bryan Wrich.
Team Secretary Ben Campbell.
The changes to the board are an exciting injection of new excitement and new ideas to one of the nation’s most consistently successful semi-pro football teams. From 2009 through 2016, the Pioneers won eight straight league championships and three national championships.
In 2017, the Pioneers fell in the league semi-finals, ending a streak of success that few teams in America can match. Board member and Head Coach Mark Heiser said Sunday’s meeting sets the table for continued success to come.
The Pioneers will hold their first tryout of 2018 on Jan. 6 at Concordia University-St. Paul, which has been the Pioneers’ home field since 2012.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A night of celebration… and goodbyes.

The 2017 St. Paul Pioneers turned the page on another successful season Sunday with their annual awards banquet at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill in St. Paul, celebrating teammates’ accomplishments and saying goodbye to two longtime coaches and board members.

While the Pioneers fell short of a championship – for the first time since 2009 – there was much to celebrate. Running back Isiah Sims, in his first full season as a starter, was named Team MVP and Offensive MVP for a season in which he led the NEFL in rushing.

Sims collected the most rushing yards, with nearly 1,100 yards, and the most touchdowns for the Pioneers this year. Other award-winners included Dominic Peace as Special Teams MVP; Phil Breidall, Defense MVP; Dejonte Skie as Rookie of the Year; Steve Giroux won the Pioneer Award; Jay Pearson received the President’s Award; Alex Hsu was named Lineman of the Year and Craig Ellestad was chosen to receive the Deanie Hooks Volunteer of the Year award.

The crowd gave a long ovation for the work of the team’s many volunteers.

Skie led the team in receptions. Breidall was the team’s leading tackler. Peace had the most interceptions and defensive end Caleb Huls led the team in quarterback sacks.
Several Pioneers were recognized for making the all-NEFL team. Linemen Jacob Husnik, Hsu and Jason Telin earned all-NEFL honors, as did Sims, receiver Stacy Kalkwarf, Skie and quarterback Cleve McCoy. Perennial all-star defensive tackle Jeff McGaster earned all-NEFL honors, as did Breidall, linebacker Mike Juberian and Peace. Kicker Jay Harding also was recognized for his outstanding season.

It was also an emotional night, as Team President Pete Globa, who also serves as the Pioneers’ special teams coordinator, and longtime board member James Walsh, the Pioneers defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, stepped down after careers that saw the team win three national championships and numerous league crowns.

Head Coach Mark Heiser praised his longtime friends and colleagues for their many contributions to the team… and he spoke with optimism about what the future holds.
“Our goal will be the same next year – an NEFL championship,” Heiser told the assembled players, volunteers and coaches. “I hope you all will want to continue to be a part of it. And it all starts again with tryouts in January.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Pioneers fall to Warriors, championship run ends

The Reign has ended. There will be a new champion.

The St. Paul Pioneers, champions of the NEFL every season since joining the league in 2010, will not repeat as top dog in 2017.

The Minneapolis Warriors, in a defensive battle, had just enough offense to send the Pioneers home, 17-7 Saturday at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

The Pioneers scored first, taking a 7-0 lead on a Cleve McCoy touchdown run in the first half. But the Warriors would knot the score, 7-7, just before halftime.
Minneapolis would score twice more in the second half to seal the win. St. Paul finishes the season 9-4 overall, 8-3 in the NEFL. It is the first time in eight seasons that the Pioneers have not finished as NEFL champions.

Minneapolis will play the Northland Bulls next week in the Elite Bowl.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pioneers overwhelm Invaders 44-3

Pioneers quarterback Cleve McCoy ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as the St. Paul Pioneers thoroughly dominated the Fargo Invaders 44-3 Saturday at Sea Foam Stadium in St. Paul in the first round of the NEFL playoffs. McCoy finished 15 of 18 passing for 222 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Offense, defense and special teams were all clicking from the start fro the Pioneers, as St. Paul opened a 14-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. The Pioneers led 31-3 at halftime. St. Paul's Isiah Sims had 108 yards and a touchdown rushing, as well as being on the receiving end of McCoy's scoring toss. Herschel Brazell also had a rushing touchdown and Jay Harding booted a 26-yard field goal. The Pioneers defense held the Invaders to less than 100 yards passing and a 33-yard field goal.

With the playoff win, St. Paul improved to 9-3 overall and 7-2 in NEFL play. St. Paul moved on to the West Division Championship game against the top-seeded Minneapolis Warriors. The game will be played Aug. 5 at Robbinsdale Cooper High School at a time to be determined.
Fargo ends their season, their first in the NEFL, with an overall record of 6-4.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Cleve McCoy.
Special Teams - Cordero Jones.
Defense - Mike Juberian.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pioneers close season with dominant win, playoffs next

On a brilliant sunny and hot day at Sea Foam Stadium, the St. Paul Pioneers closed out the 2017 regular season by raining points down on the Minnesota Brawlers. Final score: 60-0 Pioneers.

Cornerback Dominic Peace got the scoring parade started, returning the opening Brawlers punt for a touchdown. The points came fast and furious after that, as St. Paul overwhelmed an undermanned but determined Brawlers squad that showed no quit, but just didn't have the players to compete.

Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw 5 touchdown passes -- two to wideout Delane Woods and one each to Stacy Kalkwarf, Davarus Branigan and Juice Akins. Pioneers running backs Herschel Brazell and Isiah Sims had touchdowns rushing -- with Sims topping 1,000 yards rushing for the season and leading the league in rushing yards.

Defensive back Lionel Lamarre also had a touchdown on a punt return, as the Pioneers found many different ways to score.

The Brawlers' best chance to put points on the board came at the end of an impressive drive. But Pioneers linebacker Michael Juberian blocked the field goal attempt as St. Paul's defense poured through the middle of the Brawler line.

St. Paul finishes 8-3 overall, 6-2 in the NEFL West.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Isiah Sims.
Defense - Bobby Wright.
Special Teams - Stacy Kalkwarf.

The Pioneers are waiting to receive official word from the Northern Elite Football League on where the team is seeded for the playoffs. Saturday ended with some confusion over whether St. Paul would be the top seed in the West, and have a first round bye, or be seeded second and have a home playoff game July 29. We will update our website and Facebook pages as soon as we receive official word.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pioneers fall in defensive battle

In a game dominated by the defenses, one mistake would turn the tide.

On Saturday in Fargo, N.D., the St. Paul Pioneers made the mistake. The Fargo Invaders took the game.

St. Paul fell 14-0 at Shanley High School in a game that, seconds from becoming a 7-7 tie, instead put the Pioneers in the unfamiliar position of no longer being in front of the west. With the win, the Invaders take over first place in the NEFL West with a 6-1 record.

The Pioneers fall to 5-2, 7-3 overall.

Fargo led 7-0 at the half. The Pioneers' best drive was in the 4th quarter, when St. Paul drove the length of the field to have a first and goal inside the Fargo 2 yard line.

A Pioneers score could have tied the game. Instead, Fargo made the biggest play of the game, stripping the ball from NEFL-leading rusher Isiah Sims and returning it 98 yards for the touchdown and the final points of the night.

This week's slate of games over the final regular season weekend will be huge for playoff seeding. Fargo plays at the Warriors and the Pioneers are home against the Brawlers.

If Fargo wins, they will be the top seed in the west. If the Pioneers and Warriors both win, there will be a 3-way tie in the west and the top seed will go to the team that has surrendered the fewest points.

It's sure to be an exciting close to the regular season at Sea Foam. We hope to see you and HEAR you there. Kickoff is set for noon.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pioneers Overwhelm Sting 45-6

Two Cleve McCoy touchdown passes and a swarming Pioneers secondary that picked off Sting quarterbacks three times helped the St. Paul Pioneers top the Battle Creek Sting 45-6 Saturday night at Sea Foam Stadium.

On a beautiful night for football, the Pioneers opened the scoring with a Jay Harding field goal. They never looked back.

Daireus Mock scored on an 80-yard touchdown run and an Isiah Sims short touchdown plunge, set up by a Shaq Theus interception, put the Pioneers up 17-0 in the second quarter. A long Sting touchdown pass closed the gap a bit. But the Sting missed the extra point and would not score again on the night as the Pioneers led 17-6. Mock had 124 yards rushing on just 7 attempts. Sims finished with 69 yards on 14 attempts and leads the league with 798 yards on the ground.

A McCoy to Juice Akins strike put the Pioneers up 24-6. Then Brandon Murdock, who continually harassed Sting ball carriers and quarterbacks all night, single-handedly beat his man, sacked the Sting quarterback, stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. McCoy wasted little time, hitting Delane Woods with his second TD toss and giving St. Paul a 31-6 lead. McCoy, a product of South Carolina State University, finished the night 9 of 11 passing, for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 158.3.

Dominic Peace returned his first interception of the game 70 yards for a score and a second Peace interception later in the end zone snuffed the best Sting opportunity to hit pay dirt in the third quarter. Peace has four interceptions on the season, and two touchdowns.

A did-you-see-that sideline grab of a Dennis Gudim pass by Akins set up the final touchdown of the night, a 38-yard burst up the left sideline by Hershel Brazell.

Players of the game:
Special Teams - Jay Harding.
Offense - Cleve McCoy.
Defense - Brandon Murdock and Dominic Peace.

The Pioneers, 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the West Division of the NEFL, head to Fargo, ND, next week to play the Invaders as the regular season nears its conclusion. The game has playoff seeding implications as the winning team will have the inside track to home field advantage.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pioneers turn over football, game, to Warriors

St. Paul fell to the Minneapolis Warriors 13-7 Saturday at Cooper High School.

The Pioneers fell behind early, when Warriors quarterback Aryton Scott hit Marcus Foster with a deep bomb. The 7-0 Minneapolis lead would last until late in the game, when Scott scored on a 1-yard sneak into the end zone after the Warriors returned an interception into the red zone. St. Paul blocked the extra point and trailed 13-0.

Throughout the game, the Pioneers were uncharacteristically sloppy with the football, turning it over a total of six times -- five interceptions and a fumble. Still, late in the contest, the Pioneers had some life when quarterback Cleve McCoy first hit receiver Cordero Jones with a deep pass over the middle and then passed to Juice Akins in stride to pull within 13-7. An onside kick was recovered by the Warriors, however, and Minneapolis ran out the clock to record the win.

The Pioneers are now 6-2 overall, 4-1 in NEFL play, heading into the Fourth of July bye week.

St. Paul will host the Battle Creek Sting July 8 in a return to Sea Foam Stadium.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's that time again! Time to take your kids to free Pioneers football camp!

8th Annual
Capital City - St Paul Pioneers
Youth Football Clinic

Sat July 8, 2017


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

Free to Ages: 8-14

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

Instructors: Pioneers 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. Battle Creek Sting Semi-Pro football game

Saturday July 8
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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Storms, lightning stop game at halftime, Pioneers top Bulldogs 14-3

The Pioneers defeated the Kansas City Bulldogs 14-3 in a game called after an hour lightning delay after halftime.
Isiah Sims put the Pioneers on the board first with a short touchdown run after a grinding Pioneers drive that spanned the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second.
It would take little time for the Bulldogs to strike back, however, returning the kickoff to the Pioneers' 15 yard line.
Two plays later and Kansas City had a first and goal at the Pioneers' 5.
The Cardinal and Black defense held and the Bulldogs had to settle for a field goal. They wouldn't get close to scoring again.
Cleve McCoy added a short touchdown run later in the second quarter and the Jay Harding extra point gave St. Paul a 14-3 lead.
Monsoon rains and a lightning show of more than an hour prompted officials to call the Game, giving the Pioneers the victory and a 6-1 record.
St. Paul travels to Cooper High School Saturday to face the surging Minneapolis Warriors in a return to NEFL action.
Kickoff is set for 1 pm.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Steve Giroux.
Defense - Caleb Huls.
Special Teams - Michael Van Leer and Jay Harding.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pioneers start slow, end fast, beat Sting 46-0

The Pioneers started slow Saturday in Woodbury, but by the time the game clock read 00:00, St. Paul was leaving with a 46-0 victory over the Battle Creek Sting.

St. Paul led 16-0 at halftime and struggled to get on track in the first quarter. The Pioneers' first points came on a safety, when Steve Robinson and linebacker Mike Juberian trapped a Sting receiver in the end zone on a bubble screen. An Isiah Sims TD run and a Cleve McCoy touchdown run ended the first half.

The third quarter was a different story, however, with the Pioneers scoring on offense, defense and special teams.

First, the special teams. Cornerback Dominic Peace fielded a bouncing punt -- the kind that makes coaches say "No, No!" and returned it for a weaving 55-yard touchdown.

Then Michael Van Leer grabbed a sweep and, with a nifty cut between receivers Dejonte Skie and Stacy Kalkwarf who were tying up defenders downfield, scored his first semi-pro touchdown.
The Pioneers closed out the third quarter scoring with another safety, on a bad snap on a punt, and a McCoy to Kalkwarf touchdown pass.

A Trey Keenan interception, also his first in semi-pro, would lead to a long fourth quarter drive, kept alive by an ooooh-inspiring leaping catch of a Dennis Gudim pass by tight end Davarus Brannigan. Sims scored his second touchdown of the game a few plays later, making the final 46-0.

Several Pioneers had strong games, including linebacker Jay BeastMode Pearson, Van Leer, defensive tackle Tyrese Brent and safety Bobby Wright.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Stacy Kalkwarf and Dejonte Skie.
Defense - Jeff McGaster, with a sack and several tackles for loss.
Special Teams - Dominic Peace.
The Pioneers travel to Kansas City next week to take on the Bulldogs in non-league action.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pioneers dominate early, hold off Fargo late

The St. Paul Pioneers jumped all over the visiting Fargo Invaders Saturday at Sea Foam Stadium, turning two defensive touchdowns into a dominating 34-7 halftime lead.

Good thing. Because Fargo, previously unbeaten in their first season in the Northern Elite Football League and winners of 14 straight games dating back to their previous league, refused to fold, staying within striking distance until the very end of the Pioneers 47-28 victory.

It sure began in a lopsided way, with Dominic Peace of the Pioneers returning a first quarter interception for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The lead would grow to 14-0, after a nice touchdown run by Daireus Mock. Quarterback Cleve McCoy would hit receiver Dejonte Skie with a touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 20-0 lead and linebacker Phil Breidall returned a fumble, forced by defensive tackle Jeff McGaster, for another touchdown and a 27-0 lead.

Immediately after Fargo drove the field to get on the board at 27-7, McCoy struck again, hitting receiver Stacy Kalkwarf with a 60-yard bomb before the half and a 34-7 lead.

The second half proved to be a more competitive game, and a bigger challenge for the Pioneers, as Fargo scored twice in the third quarter, once on a return of a McCoy fumble, while running back Isiah Sims scored to keep Fargo trailing 40-20 going into the fourth. St. Paul's running game though, led by Sims, who had 138 yards and leads the league in rushing, held the Invaders at bay. After a late Fargo touchdown and 2-point conversion closed the gap to 40-28, St. Paul's offense dominated 4th quarter time of possession for nearly 9 minutes before Mock scored one more time to end the contest.

Breidall led the Pioneers defense with 12 total tackles on the night. In addition to Sims, Mock had 74 yards rushing and two scores and is second in NEFL rushing.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Isiah Sims and Daireus Mock.
Defense - Dominic Peace. Special Teams - Eric Ellestad.

St. Paul, now 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the NEFL, heads to Woodbury next week to take on the Battle Creek Sting.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pioneers shut out Warriors, 17-0.

The St. Paul Pioneers rode a smothering defense and two Cleve McCoy touchdown passes -- one early and one late -- to defeat the Minneapolis Warriors 17-0 Saturday at a cold and wet Sea Foam Stadium.

McCoy hit running back Daireus Mock with a short pass into the end zone after eluding the Warriors with a creative scramble. The improvised play gave St. Paul a 7-0 halftime lead.

Later in the game, kicker Jay Harding made it a two score game with a 30-plus yard field goal. The 10-0 cushion would be enough, as the Pioneers' defensive line and linebackers hounded the Warriors quarterback all day and St. Paul's defensive backs played tight coverage.

The defense was helped immensely by the booming punts of Eric Ellestad. The former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher did an excellent job getting the Pioneers out of their own zone and pinning the Warriors deep.

Linebacker Phil Breidall and safety Shaq Theus had interceptions and linebacker Michael Juberian was a bone-crushing tackling machine.

When McCoy hit receiver Justin Miles late in the game with another touchdown pass, the only intrigue left in the contest was whether St. Paul would preserve the shutout. It did.

The Pioneers are now off for a week in recognition of the Memorial Day holiday and will return to action at Sea Foam on June 3 against the undefeated Fargo Invaders.

Players of the Game:
Offense - Cleve McCoy.
Special Teams - Eric Ellestad.
Defense - Michael Juberian.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pioneers run over, around Brawlers 35-7.

The St. Paul Pioneers used a dominant running game and a stingy defense to defeat the Minnesota Brawlers 35-7 Saturday in Burnsville.

St. Paul scored first on a Cleve McCoy to Herschel Brazell Jr. short pass that Brazell turned into a pinball touchdown. St. Paul would score two more times before half to take a 21-7 lead into intermission.

In the second half, it was all Pioneers as the offense scored twice more on the ground and the defense clamped down, with defensive backs Steve Robinson and Zachery March snagging interceptions. The Pioneers are now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the NEFL.

Isiah Sims ended the day with 18 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Daireus Mock had 93 yards rushing and a touchdown and Herschel Brazell Jr finished with 86 yards and a touchdown rushing, along with a 17-yard touchdown reception. Quarterback Cleve McCoy was an efficient 6 of 9 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown.

With the win, St. Paul got back on the winning track after losing to Des Moines last week in a defensive battle.

The Pioneers host the Minneapolis Warriors this Saturday at Sea Foam. Kickoff is 5 p.m.

Players of the Game:
Offense- the offensive line.

Defense - Zach March.
Special Teams - Phil Breidall.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pioneers lose a defensive battle, fall to Blaze 15-11.

The St. Paul Pioneers fell to the Des Moines Blaze 15-11 Saturday night at Sea Foam Stadium in a defensive battle.

St. Paul took a quick lead in the first quarter, after forcing a Blaze safety. But Des Moines would come back to take the lead after returning an interception to the Pioneers 2 yard line and scoring two plays later.

The Pioneers regained the advantage on a Cleve McCoy to Justin Miles scoring toss and then expand it to 11-7 with another safety. St. Paul led 11-7 at the half.

Des Moines would score the only touchdown of the second half with a fourth quarter 7-yard punt return to paydirt. While the Pioneers had several chances in the red zone during the game, St. Paul could not convert into more points. Both teams' offenses struggled against dominant defenses, as the Pioneers scored two safeties in the first half.
The Pioneers are now 1-1 as they head into NEFL play next week against the Minnesota Brawlers at Burnsville High School.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pioneers come back to beat Bulls

Pioneers head coach Mark Heiser wanted his team to be better prepared for what is sure to be a challenging season. So he scheduled the Northland Bulls for the Pioneers’ first game.
Given that nearly every contest between the Bulls and Pioneers is a slug fest, with the Bulls winning a game in St. Paul last year, Heiser and the rest of his squad expected a battle. But, after two early interceptions led to a first half deficit of 10-0, Heiser wouldn’t have been blamed for rethinking that idea.

Thanks to an opportunistic defense, two Cleve McCoy touchdown passes and a huge momentum turning interception return for a touchdown by all-star defensive tackle Jeff McGaster, the Pioneers weathered the Bulls’ storm and prevailed Saturday at St. Paul Central High School 21-13.

Wideouts Justin Miles and Stacy Kalkwarf had touchdown receptions.

Linebacker Cory Brenner and defensive back Lionel Lamarre also had interceptions for the Pioneers, but none was bigger than McGaster’s second half theft. He tipped an attempted screen pass, batted the ball to himself and rumbled 40 yards to the end zone to turn what had been a 14-13 Pioneers lead into a more comfortable cushion.
Running back Isiah Sims chewed up important yards on the ground and punter Eric Ellestad repeatedly helped flip field possession for the Pioneers with booming kicks to get St. Paul out of trouble. The game, technically a non-league contest because the Bulls have moved to the NEFL Eastern Division, showed that both teams have some rust to shake off. But it also showed both teams will be in the playoff hunt again this season.

With the win, the Pioneers are 1-0. St. Paul hosts Des Moines this coming Saturday at Sea Foam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul. The Blaze handled the Pioneers last year in Des Moines to claim the Capital City Classic traveling trophy. The Pioneers will be hoping for a different result this time at home.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Isiah Sims.
Defense - Jeff McGaster.
Special Teams - Eric Ellestad.