Pioneers attracting top new talent, committed vets
By Cassie Kickert

Excitement and anticipation ran high at the second St. Paul Pioneers tryout on Sunday February 19th. During the 11-on-11 drills, applause rang throughout the arena as players cheered on potential teammates.

Delane Woods was one newcomer hoping to make the 2012 Pioneers. Woods has plenty of experience playing football, however. He played high school football at Minneapolis Washburn High School. He also played for two years at East Los Angeles College, a junior college in California.

In 2008, he was second on the team with 20 catches for 412 yards and six touchdowns. That year, he finished with 603 all-purpose yards.

He transferred to North Dakota State but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, however. Now, his knee is fully healed and he hopes to put the hurt on Pioneers’ opponents. He hopes that playing with the Pioneers, defending champions of the Northern Elite Football League, will give him a chance to play football at an even higher level.

One of his goals is to possibly get a tryout with a Canadian Football League team.

Another new player at the Pioneers’ tryout was Marcus Foster. Again, though, Foster is no rookie to football – or the NEFL. Foster has been a leading receiver for the Minnesota Dragons for the past three years.

He said he came to the Pioneers because “[the Pioneers are] a winning organization with integrity and class.”

Right now, he is focused on learning the playbook. He must be a fast study. On the first play of 11-on-11 drills, Foster caught a long touchdown on a play-action pass.

“We saw too much of that these past couple of years when we played the Dragons,” Pioneers defensive line coach Jim Walsh said. “It’s nice to have Marcus on our side for a change. We are excited about his commitment to making himself and his teammates better—and his ability to make the tough catch.”

Woods and Foster were just two of over 60 players who showed up to the tryout and made it a huge success. Next up is the Pioneer’s mini camp at McMurray Field in St. Paul March 24-25.