Local owner of amateur football team ready for national championship
A Woodbury resident with an affinity for the gridiron is taking his team to Miami this weekend.
George Hall, who is the owner of the St. Paul Pioneers amateur football team, is packing his bags for the North American Football League national championship that will take place Saturday, Nov. 14.
"It's been a very, very long season," said Hall, who took control of the team in 2008, after spending time as a player and coach. "We start practicing in April and the games start in June. This is pretty much our Super Bowl, for the level we play at."
The Pioneers, who play their home games at a combination of high school fields in St. Paul, finished their season with a record of 13-1 in which they defeated their archrival the Racine (Wis.) Raiders before taking a 1,700-mile Halloween road trip to Washington, where they beat the Bellingham (WA) Bulldogs to advance to the national championship in the NAFL, which Hall said is the largest amateur football organization in the country.
"It's a true national championship, and to be a part of it something we've worked toward all season," said Hall, who works as a database coordinator for an eye care company.
The Pioneers 60-man roster includes players with mostly high school and/or college level football experience. One of their top running backs is Park High School alumnus Nick Graham. The Pioneers head coach, Mark Heiser, lives in Woodbury.
Hall, who purchased the team in late 2007 after it almost disbanded when its previous owner was having difficulties financing the team, said he continues to stay involved even after his playing days because of his passion for the game of football and the bonds he has formed with Pioneers players and coaches.
"It's a very tight group of guys and our families are close as well," said Hall, who will be making the trip to national championship game with his wife Dede and daughter Tatyana, a Middleton Elementary student. "We've got some guys who were on the original Pioneers team in 2002, and this will be their last game. We're hoping to make it a lasting memory."
For more information on the St. Paul Pioneers amateur football team go to www.pioneersfootball.org