If you wondered what happens to college football players who don't go on the "next level," which is almost all of them, one answer is that a lot of them go on to play semipro football. The "pro" part of it is mostly a misnomer, because there are no salaries or equipment deals or much of anything beyond the satisfaction of continuing to play football.
On Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneers won their third straight Northern Elite Football League title by beating a team from Eau Claire, the Chippewa Valley Predators, 35-12 at Concordia University.
It's not exactly Gophers over Badgers, but it does give needy Minnesotans a small "beat Wisconsin" fix.
The Pioneers defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, James Walsh, doubles as a Star Tribune reporter in his spare time. Upload asked him to provide a report on the game, and here's what happened:
The St. Paul Pioneers used a powerful running game to break open a close contest and win their third straight Northern Elite Football League championship Saturday in St. Paul with a 35-12 victory over Chippewa Valley. The Pioneers’ Isaac Odim, a former University of Minnesota-Duluth standout, scored two rushing touchdowns and gained 208 yards on 26 carries.
(Upload note: Odim was good enough at UMD to get signed by the San Diego Chargers are get a few carries in an exhibition game last year, even though he did not live up to an overenthusiastic blogger who called him "the next Danny Woodhead.)
Brian Holmes, from Concordia University-St. Paul, DeMario Walton, a Southwest Minnesota State product and Delane Woods, a receiver from North Dakota State University, tallied the other touchdowns. Going back to their North American Football League national championship captured in Miami Beach in 2009, the win is the fourth consecutive league or national title for the Pioneers, an amateur football team that features dozens of former local college players.
(Here's the team roster: Look for your friends and neighbors.)
The Pioneers were founded in 2002 and have won seven championships in their 11 seasons. The game was a rematch of last year’s NEFL title game, which the Pioneers won in Eau Claire, 15-0.
What happens now? The team will have a chance to play for a national title "somewhere nice and warm this winter," Walsh said.