Thanks to a 28-point first-half scoring barrage and a defense that harassed, hounded and abused Chippewa Valley quarterbacks all night, the St. Paul Pioneers are Champs! Again!
St. Paul won its 7th straight NEFL crown, and 8th straight league championship overall, with a 28-10 victory over the Chippewa Valley Predators in Eau Claire, Wis. League MVP Ronald Zollicoffer got the scoring started with a first-half scamper, and would wind up scoring three touchdowns on the night. But bruising running back Ernest Tucker would capture offensive player of the game honors with several critical fourth quarter runs when the Pioneers were trying to keep the ball away from the Preds and run out the clock. Defensive back Donte Pettis also had a big impact on the outcome, playing tight coverage all night and scoring the Pioneers second touchdown after picking off a Keldric Stokes pass and returning it to paydirt. Stokes would later be knocked out of the game after a punishing hit by defensive tackle Jeff McGaster. Before he was hurt in the second quarter, Stokes completed only 3 of 11 passes for 25 yards and an interception. Stokes' replacement, receiver Jauhem Byrd, didn't fare much better. He finished 6 of 20 passing, for 61 yards and an interception by Pioneers defensive back Brock Keaton, which helped snuff out another Chippewa Valley drive.
The Pioneers finish the season 10-3 overall and 9-1 in the NEFL. The Predators were 12-0 before running into the Pioneers buzz saw. St. Paul led 28-0 at halftime. The win is the 102nd victory by Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser, as well as his and the team's eighth straight league championship to go along with three national titles. Players of the game: Offense - Ernest Tucker. Defense - Donte Pettis and Brock Keaton. Special teams - Jamal McNutt.