One of the most storied rivalries in semi-pro football, featuring two of the most successful franchises in the country, is scheduled to resume May 21.
That’s when the St. Paul Pioneers return to Historic Horlick Field to take on the Racine Raiders. Racine will return the favor in 2023, when it travels to St. Paul.
The two teams, with multiple national championships and respective league crowns between them, have not faced off since St. Paul drubbed Racine in the 2009 NAFL playoffs. The teams first played each other in 2002, when an upstart Pioneers squad was overwhelmed by the Raiders in Racine. Racine would win several more games in the series before the Pioneers turned the tide with an overtime victory at Horlick in 2006. Then it was the Pioneers’ turn to dominate, winning several games culminating its own winning streak with the 2009 playoff victory in St. Paul. That win would lead to St. Paul’s first National Title.
Team President Mark Heiser announced the news earlier this week. As Pioneers coach, Heiser won three national championships and had two national runner-up finishes.
“Breaking News! We have agreed to a Home and away series with the Racine Raiders! We will be playing at Racine on May 21st this season and they will play us in St. Paul in 2023,” Heiser told the Pioneers coaches. “Buckle up! That’s going to be a fun game! It’s the best semi-pro game environment I have ever coached in!”
Pioneers Coach Damien Rochon-Washington, a member of the Pioneers Hall of Fame, was a receiver on the St. Paul teams that clashed with the Raiders.
“This is one of the best environments in semipro hands down! I couldn't be more excited for you boys to experience it for yourselves,” the Rochon-Washington told his players. “Thanks Mark Heiser. I know how long you attempted to get them back on our schedule and how hard you worked at it.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to hold their second tryout for the 2022 team on Saturday at Conway Recreation Center in St. Paul. Registration starts at 9:45 a.m.