By Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Devin Waters, one of the leaders of Rogers’ 2010 state runner-up football team, is back on the gridiron this summer as a defensive end for the St. Paul Pioneers.
“I’m having a blast,” said the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Waters, who had four sacks in one game and two fumble recoveries in another, helping the Pioneers post an 8-1 record so far. He has twice been named defensive player of the game.
The Pioneers will close their Northern Elite Football League regular season Saturday, July 19, against Twin Cities Titans at 5 p.m. at Concordia-St. Paul. Leading their division, they’ll likely have a bye before opening playoffs Saturday, Aug. 2.
“Devin was a nice addition to our team this year,” said Mark Heiser, coach and general manager of the four-year-old franchise. “He’s one of the top ten in the league in sacks, and he’s got a big motor, so he’s always running plays down.”
The league’s players have experience level from high school and all levels of college. The Pioneers quarterback, Cleveland McCoy, played for South Carolina State.
“The players range anywhere from 20 years old to almost 40,” said Waters.
Heiser said the teams’ expenses are covered by sponsorships, player fees ($100 each), and modest attendance. He said the crowds average about 250 per game, although they’ve played in the league finals the last two years and drew about 750 for those.
“We’re just trying to break even,” he said. “We have a lot of volunteers.”
Waters, 21, was a tight end and powerful pass rusher for the Royals on their march to the Prep Bowl his senior year. He was signed by St. Cloud State, but had one redshirt season and left school. He’s currently working at a restaurant with plans to resume college this fall.
“I wanted play football again, have some fun, get some experience and put some film together,” said Waters, who’s hoping for a shot at the Arena Football League.