An Exciting Beginning to an Exciting Season for Pioneers
Written By: Cassie Kickert
Photos By: Jess Protivinsky of Narratore Photography

With a rare March Minnesota sun beating down on MacMurray Field in St. Paul, players took to the field Saturday and Sunday, learning Pioneers plays and formations at the St. Paul Pioneers 2012 Minicamp.

Quarterback Michael Spriggs is one player hoping to make the Pioneers again in 2012. Spriggs just moved back to the Twin Cities. He last played for the Pioneers in 2009, helping the team on its road to the NAFL National Championship.

“[I] love the organization,” Spriggs said.

When asked what his goal is this season, he didn’t hesitate: “To win another championship.”

Spriggs has an impressive playing resume. From 2005 to 2007, he played in three different indoor football leagues. In 2005, he played in six games for the Lincoln Capitals of the NIFL (National Indoor Football League).

He started six games for the Johnston Riverhawks of the AIFL (American Indoor Football League). In 2007, he threw 18 touchdowns in 10 games for the Washington Tri-Cities Fever of AF2 (Arena Football League’s developmental league).

Spriggs played college football at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.

A key player and leader returning from last year is left tackle C.J. Sanderson. Sanderson was voted the Pioneers’ Best Offensive Lineman in 2010 and was the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2009.  He played one year of high school football in Tampa, Florida, before coming to the Twin Cities to attend Concordia University-St. Paul on a four year scholarship.

With Sanderson anchoring the offensive line, the Golden Bears cruised to rushing success. In 2005, the team rushed for a record 2,867 yards. They ranked 11th in Division II in rushing yards that year while also allowing only 17 sacks.

Sanderson, like Spriggs, also played indoor football before joining the Pioneers in 2008. He started all 15 games for the Peoria Rough Riders of the UIF (United Indoor Football League) in 2006. The next year, he joined the Sioux Falls Storm.

But the minicamp was not just a place for experienced players to hone their craft. One new player hoping to make the squad was Jordan Klicker. He played high school football at Tartan Senior High School in Oakdale, Minnesota. He said he plays for love of the game.

He would like to play for a higher league but “this (trying out for the Pioneers) is a good start for now,” he said.

With Spriggs at quarterback and Sanderson anchoring the offensive line, the Pioneers should be poised for offensive prowess this season – along with a talented roster of new and returning players.

The Pioneers will now start regular weekly practices on Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first few practices will be under the lights at St. Paul Municipal Athletics, 1500 Rice Street, St. Paul.  The Pioneers play their first game May 5 at 5 pm at Seafoam Stadium at Concordia University-St. Paul against the Minnesota Sting.

Their first Northern Elite Football game will be the following week, against the Central Wisconsin Spartans, in Schofield, Wis.