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Pioneers Coaching Staff

Mark Heiser: Head Coach

(651) 300-4365

Nine seasons, eight league championships, three national championships. 

There wouldn’t seem to be much more for Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser to prove and, yet, each season he proves again why he is among the best amateur football coaches in the country.

Since taking over as head coach in 2008, Mark has compiled a 102-15-1 record and captured eight straight league titles – including the last seven Northern Elite Football League championships. Dedication, attention to detail and a calm presence in adversity are hallmarks of Mark's coaching style.

2017 will be Mark’s 12th year with the Pioneers overall and 10th year as Head Coach. In his first season as Head Coach, Mark led the Pioneers to an 11-2 record including a division championship, regional championship, and a berth in the NAFL Elite Eight. In 2009, his team won its first national title. He won two more, in 2012 and 2014.

Prior to taking over as Head Coach, Mark spent the previous two seasons as the Pioneers Defensive Coordinator orchestrating a defense that led the league in just about every defensive category.

Mark has been involved in Semi-Pro football since 2000, when he began playing nine man football for the Richfield Champps of the Southern Plains Football League. A former four year starter and team captain at Concordia University in St. Paul, Mark played four years of Semi-Pro football.

In 2003 Mark played for the Minnesota Federals and helped the team achieve a 7-3 record. A year later, with the Twin Cities Titans, Mark helped the Titans make it to the GPFL championship game.

In 2005 Mark hung up the pads to become the Defensive Coordinator of the now defunct Twin Cities Titans. In his first year as Defensive Coordinator, Mark coordinated one of the top defenses in the league and helped lead the Titans to the 2005 MFL Championship.

During his coaching career, Mark has coached high school football and basketball at Holy Family Catholic High School, was the Head Girl’s Basketball Coach at St. Paul Academy & Summit School for four seasons and served as the Head Football Coach there for two seasons. For the past three seasons, he has been the head football coach at Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School.

Mark holds a Masters degree in Human Services with an emphasis in criminal justice and a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education and just completed another Masters degree, in Athletic and Activities Administration through 

Bryan Wrich: Offensive Coordinator

Bryan Wrich is the coach tasked with leading the potent Pioneers offense. He is more than up for the job.

As offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Sting, Bryan helped guide the Sting offense to Minnesota Premier Football League records for total offense, passing, rushing and scoring. Last season, in partnership with Anthony Minus, Bryan helped make the Pioneers even more potent, boasting the league Player of the Year and another championship at the end of the campaign.

Bryan, who once played guard for the Pioneers, returned to the Cardinal and Black as an offensive assistant in 2014.

Wrich is a 1995 graduate of Park of Cottage Grove High School who went on to play for Minnesota State University-Mankato. He came into adult amateur football with the Woodbury Warriors, before joining the Pioneers. A neck injury ended his playing career but Wrich was itching to get back into the game as a coach. In 2005, he was an assistant at St. Francis High School and with the Oakdale Outlaws, another amateur team.

Wrich went on to call the offense for the Minnesota Phoenix, who regularly faced the Pioneers in the Mid-America Football League and the North American Football League. He then spent a season coaching with the Minnesota Rhinos, before moving on to the Sting.

Dave Ladd: Defensive Assistant

Dave Ladd has joined the St. Paul Pioneers coaching staff for the 2017 season. An experienced high school and semi-pro coach, Dave will be the Pioneers linebackers coach, helping the St. Paul defense continue its tradition of excellence.

Prior to joining the Pioneers, Dave was the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for the South Metro Patriots of the Northern States Football League. In 2014, Dave was the defensive line coach for the Mid-America Fighting Orioles team that won the NSFL championship. Dave also has coached with the North Bank Bulls of the Northern Elite Football League and the Minnesota Vixen of the Independent Women's Football League.

Dave has coached extensively at the high school level, previously coaching at Bloomington Kennedy High School, St. Louis Park High School and Academy of Holy Angels High School in Richfield. He also serves on the board of directors for the Valley Athletic Association in Apple Valley, MN.

In his playing days, he was a member of back-to-back undefeated state championship teams in Hutchinson, MN. His says his coaching philosophy is centered upon "developing better football players, attention to detail, personal responsibility and the value of teamwork."

When he is not coaching, Dave runs a government relations and strategic communications consulting firm, RDL & Associates. He is an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and loves spending every spare moment he can with his 6-year-old son, Ryan.

Welcome to the Pioneers, Dave!

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Jason Grendzinski
Defensive Assistant 

Jason coaches the Pioneers defensive backs and also serves as the team’s recruiting coordinator, drawing 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..

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Erik Hjelm
Offensive Line 

Erik Hjelm, an original Pioneer stalwart of the team’s first offensive line, will be St. Paul’s offensive line coach in 2017. A graduate of Roseville’s Alexander Ramsey High School and Anoka Ramsey Community College, Hjelm brings years of playing and coaching experience – and more than a bit of a snarl – to the Pioneers’ staff.

Besides playing during the Pioneers inaugural season in 2002, Hjelm also played and coached with the former Oakdale Outlaws. For the past eight years, he has coached in the St. Francis school district and also coached in Roseville. Erik, a master plumber, brings intensity and attention to detail to his weekly work with the Pioneers’ offensive linemen and is tasked with molding several experienced players with a group of promising youngsters. Welcome home, Erik.

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. 

Rob Neumann
who once ran the Pioneers offense, rejoins the squad in 2018 as an offensive assistant. 

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. 

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. 

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 Jesse Luft - Defensive Backs

Jesse Luft 
Defensive Backs