The MSUM football team is taking steps in the right direction, and one of the big reasons is their star wide receiver Adam Jiskra. Jiskra is known by the entire team as a joker with a fierce competitive drive and great work ethic. Jiskra is one of the leaders for the Dragons by the way he competes and his approach to off-the-field life.
“(Jiskra) is a guy that makes good choices, and in the locker room he keeps morale up. He leads by example in how hard he works and how competitive he is,” head coach Steve Laqua said. “For how much he jokes around and has great of a sense of humor, he has a competitive side you can see in him, and that’s how he does such a great job at leading.”
Jiskra, a sophomore, caught the Dragons’ eye in high school in Grafton, N.D. The Grafton native was a three-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back. Jiskra was a better receiver, which showed even on defense when he hauled in 21 interceptions over a two-year span. He admitted his tackling was sub-par, but his ball skills kept him on the defense.
“I probably had more interceptions than tackles,” Jiskra said. “Our offense was a four-wide, so I got a lot of reps in high school all three years.”
His high school team threw the ball around, a lot like the Dragons, and that wasn’t the only similarity to Jiskra’s high school. Jiskra’s sophomore season was a rebuilding year with three wins. The program made steady improvement as Jiskra led the Spoilers to an undefeated state title his senior year. The young receiver didn’t have a problem going through a rebuilding process again, because he knows the hard work pays off.
“It would’ve been nice to keep winning because everybody loves winning, but I’ve been through it in high school, so I know what it takes,” Jiskra said. “We’re definitely on the right path, but since I’ve been through it I think I can help.”
Jiskras’ first year as a Dragon saw him shine in their offense, as he led the team in yards, receptions and touchdowns. This year his production has improved as he’s second in the conference in receiving yards (516) and receptions (32) respectively. Jiskra is also tied for third in receiving touchdowns, with five through the first five games. The coaching staff credits Jiskra’s output with a wide variety of skills and great competitive drive.
“The one thing he does extremely well is he adjusts to the ball in the air. His body positioning in the air is as good as anybody I’ve been around. The way he puts himself between him and the defender helps him make plays. That ability is natural and hard to teach,” Laqua said.
“We use Adam a lot of different ways. He can catch the deep ball, the quick screen or go across the middle. He’s an all-around receiver that finds creases in zones and runs savvy routes in man coverage,” wide receivers coach Ross Danielson said. “He works hard every single day. He views every day as ‘did I get better or did I stay the same?’ If he gets better, he counts it as a win and if he doesn’t, he counts it as a loss.”
Another factor in Jiskra’s play is the man tossing him the ball: Jake Hodge. Hodge and Jiskra have great chemistry on the gridiron and after the game, and it shows on Saturdays.
“Hodge is my roommate and one of my best friends. We have a pretty good connection on and off the field. I feel like he trusts me a lot, and that carries onto the field,” Jiskra said.
The coaching staff and the players all enjoy having Jiskra make the big catches on Saturdays and enjoy his sense of humor in the locker room.
Jiskra and the Dragons hope to ride their momentum after their first win Saturday against Northern State. Game time is 2 p.m. on Saturday when they face University of Minnesota Duluth.
BY TURNER BLAUFUSS