by Martin Schlegel
Tonight, 19 seniors will lead the Dragons out onto the field for Dragon football’s opening game. The exciting new year’s mix of old friends and strong relationships is the team’s driving force.
Less than a week away from opening night, the team started gearing their practices to focus more on preparing for Winona State. After all, it’s an important night. The brand new turf field is primed for the spotlight of the first night game played at MSUM in almost 30 years.
Some people, when faced with this kind of pressure to succeed might shy away. All the excitement might feel too overwhelming.
Even head coach Steve Laqua is feeling the excitement of opening night.
“Ever since the summer every time somebody talks about it I get the butterflies in my stomach. Very similar to what a players feels.”
However, Laqua says that maturity will help the players guide them through the first game. Senior wide receiver Adam Jiskra said there are no nerves, just the game at hand.
“We’re all just pretty excited,” Jiskra said. “We expect a lot of people. We’re all experienced in the game, and we’ll handle our business.”
The game is a chance to show the students and alumni that they are ready to take the Dragons to newer heights than in years past. The players and coaches know that it will be a showcase for the new field but also for them as a team, ready to take the next step.
Senior quarterback Jake Hodge knows that the program has been ready for a while.
“We’re just looking to take the next step and get a winning record this year.”
Laqua, who has been there for the seniors since they joined the team, feels the time is now.
“For them to push the boulder over the top of the hill, I think would be extremely satisfying,” Laqua said. “It’s extremely motivating for them to want to get that done. Knowing that they took something from the bottom and got it over top.”