11 Pioneers Selected as 2011 NEFL All-Stars

Coaches of the Northern Elite Football League have chosen 11 St. Paul Pioneers to the NEFL all-star game, to be played Aug. 13 in Wausau, Wis. The North
Division-leading Pioneers had more players named all-stars than any other team in the league.

Named to the squad:

Jeff McGaster, defensive tackle, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa who has dominated play since joining the Pioneers in 2008. McGaster may be the most dominant, all-around defensive lineman in semi-pro football and is equally tough against the run and the pass.

Cliff Gordy, defensive end, from Van Meter High School in Iowa, leads the NEFL with nine sacks in his first year as a full-time starter. Gordy has great strength and agility, two attributes he has honed in his work as a mixed martial arts fighter.

John Robinson
, linebacker, who played at Concordia University-St. Paul, was a fullback in his previous seasons with the Pioneers. But he has “made all the plays” since moving to linebacker this season, said defensive coordinator Jim Walsh. Robinson is a hard-hitting, physical tackler.

Terry Jones, cornerback and another former Concordia-St. Paul player, has given the Pioneers a shut-down presence in the defensive backfield all season – and for several seasons now. He leads the team in interceptions and was the defensive MVP of last year’s all-star game.

Darrell Young, strong safety, of Augsburg College, has stepped into a starting role in 2011 without missing a beat, making plays with his brains and his brawn. His pick six against the Menomomie Thunderhawks was a key play earlier this season.

Reggie Houston, wide receiver, from Clarksdale High School in Indiana, is the NEFL’s leading receiver and is a threat to score from anyone on the field. This is Houston’s second season with the Pioneers and his first time named to the all-star team. It won’t be the last.

Joseph Mapson, wide receiver, from Concordia-University-St. Paul, has been one of the best receivers in semi-pro football for many years. This season, he has stepped up his importance and versatility by even playing quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Mapson is second in the league in receiving yardage and is the seeming master of the big play.

C.J. Sanderson
, tackle, Concordia-St. Paul, has been a wall on the left side of the Pioneers’ offensive line for several seasons and has helped the team win multiple championships. This year is no different, as Sanderson’s play again will go a long way to deciding whether St. Paul wins another title in 2011.

Zac Thompson, guard, from River Falls High School in Wisconsin, returned to the Pioneers offensive line in 2011 after helping the team make its national championship run in 2009. A smart, physical player, Thompson has helped keep the Pioneers’ quarterbacks upright and improve the team’s running game in 2011.

Kyle Stelter, long-snapper, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, is a multi-sport athlete who now travels the country helping teach young players how to improve their skills on special teams. This two-time NEFL all-star has been a major reason why the Pioneers’ special teams have been so strong.

Jay Harding
, kicker, Cornell University, has been a consistent high-achiever, giving St. Paul and legitimate weapon in the kicking game. Harding, who converted the winning field goal in last-year’s all-star game, has not only helped the team’s offense by scoring. His deep kickoffs have made life easier for the St. Paul defense as well.

Head Coach Mark Heiser said it is satisfying to see the other coaches in the league recognize – and reward -- the hard work put in by Pioneers players to make the team championship-caliber.

"I am excited to see 11 Pioneers make the All-Star team this season. It shows the high level of football that has become synonymous to the Pioneers brand,” Heiser said. “I can't say enough about each of these players as they are all very deserving of this honor."