The Milwaukee Mustangs open the home portion of their season tonight at the Bradley Center, hosting the Pittsburgh Power at 7 p.m.
After an odd first week bye, the team traveled to Arizona in Week 2 and lost to 71-65 to the Rattlers before beating the New Orleans Voodoo 65-42 last week. The Power are also 1-1 with a win against Orlando and a loss to Philadelphia.
Fans heading to the game may run into people already wearing No. 15 and No. 74 Mustangs jerseys, as the team brought in two local players as free agents this offseason. Offensive lineman Adam Tadisch is from Athelstane, just north of Green Bay, and receiver Jared Jenkins is Milwaukee born and raised.
OnMilwaukee.com caught up with both players in advance of tonight’s game to talk about playing at home (or close to it), what the 6-foot, 8-inch, 325-pound Tadish won’t even attempt to eat, Jenkins’ adjustment to his first year of indoor football and some insights into the fast-paced game.
OnMilwaukee.com: A few weeks ago you were both asked about playing at home, but now here are in game week – does it actually feel any different?
Adam Tadisch: It's exciting that family gets to see my play again. I have quite a few people coming, but being a Thursday not everyone was able to make it. But I'll have a good crowd. It's exciting to play, especially when you know your family is watching. You should play hard all the time but when you've got people cheering you on you always get that little extra oomph in there.
Jared Jenkins: I got some of that when I signed but his week has been even more so with me winning Player of the Week that second week I've gotten a lot of congratulations and things like that, 'I'm going to make sure to come to the game and come see you,' stuff like that. It's a great feeling to have that kind of recognition. I still just try to stay focused on the game and stay focused on the field and not try to worry about other distractions or stuff that's going on around, but it is a nice feeling to know that your friends and family will be there and that they'll be there to support you and that they're close when you need them. I guess I have a good benefit in that way.
OMC: You are one of the youngest teams in the AFL, how has it come together these last few weeks?
AT: It feels good. Each week, each practice, each game from our mistakes and we get better each day. Every time we step out on the field we pick one or two things to get better at and we all work with each other and help each other out. We've come together more. We were a pretty tight group in camp but now that we're playing and we all see have a good team, everyone is coming even more together to say we're going to do great this year.
JJ: The more you play, the closer you're going to get naturally. It was kind of weird time to have the bye that first week. You would kind of like to have that further down line in case you need a rest for injuries and stuff like that, but for a young team like us, the bye might have actually helped us a lot more because we could always use the extra time to gel as a group and get the calls down. We're a young team, we have a lot of new faces so the more we get to know each other as individuals and people the better we'll be able gel and communicate. In this game it's very big to be able to communicate with what you're seeing out there. I think we are gelling really well right now and it'll only get better as time goes.
It's scary how good this team could actually be when we get to our full potential.
OMC: Adam, what made you choose to come to Milwaukee?
AT: I had calls from just about every team in the Arena (League) but I had played for coach Landsee up in Green Bay, but I'm getting up there in age (28) so I've got a little bit of time left so I might as well play in front of the home crowd and in front of all the family. Coach Landsee is a great coach and has taught me a lot of stuff over the years. Even when I wasn't playing for him, I talked to him. He's just a great guy, a great coach and willing to help other people, especially guys getting a shot with the NFL or CFL. He's a good coach for that too.
I told myself once I stop having fun then it's time to throw in the towel, but I want to win a championship. We have a championship-caliber team here.
OMC: Jared, this is your first season in the AFL. How important was it to start producing early and then to win the AFL Player of the Week in your debut?
JJ: Your confidence always goes (up) when you see production on the field and any time you get a catch or you see the ball start to move up and down the field. Even though it is an offensive league you get up seeing your team, your offense score touchdowns which is what it's about. Your confidence really does go up but you try to stay focused and know that the other team's offense will be trying to come back and do the same thing, so you have a lot more work to do.
OMC: Jared, do you find yourself being the go-to guy socially on the team since you're from here?
JJ: (Laughs) Yes, yes I am. People ask me all the time "Where are the places to eat for this type of food" or "What's there to do?" and all those questions. But I've been off at Stevens Point most of my career and with football and basketball I'd only be home maybe about a month of the year sometimes, so I would lose track of all the hot spots and stuff like that. I'd tell them "I don't know fi that's still there" because it's been a while since I've been back to be able to check out everything. I'm kind of like the tour guide or the information person of Milwaukee as to where everything is, or I try to be. I try to be least try to be at least a good ambassador for the city. I guess you could say I'm your guy when it comes to that
They usually ask for some chicken, some down south cookin' type stuff. That's what usually what they ask me about. Me and one of the coaches were talking about Red Snappers which is this place that serves fish and chicken. And JJ's (J & J Fish & Chicken). They've never disappointed me and I know that they'd be able to go there.
OMC: Adam, have you found a favorite place yet?
AT: I want to try the hotdog place I saw on Man vs. Food (Martino's). There's Ward's with a prime rib that's like 124 ounces and if you eat that you get to name it after yourself. I don't think I'll be eating 124 ounces of prime rib any time soon. That's a lot – a lot – of meat.
OMC: Let's lift the curtain a little bit for the fan. Adam, what's it like as an offensive lineman in the AFL, considering the tight spaces and how quickly the ball has to be out?
AT: It's totally different. There's less room for error. That's the best way I can put it. You've got to be perfect for those three to five seconds. I mean, you can't be perfect all the time but your first couple steps as a lineman have to be good and fast.
OMC: Jared, as a receiver, what sort of mental adjustment have you had to make from the outdoor game considering that touchdowns come at a rapid pace in the AFL?
JJ: In the first game (against Arizona) me and another one of the other receivers were saying "We just scored a touchdown" and then we look up and a minute later they had scored a touchdown and we had to get ready to out and do it again. It's just up and down with your emotions. You get so happy because you feel you gained so much momentum with your touchdown but then the other team comes down and you're like "We have to go out and do it again." You see your emotions go up and go down.
Touchdowns are a big thing that you worked so hard to get and you get it and you get high up and then they score and it's like "Oh, OK, I guess we've got to do it again." Your emotions go up and down a lot so you try to keep it as level as you can which is pretty difficult in this exciting of a game.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.