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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.

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