HS Football: Bismarck’s Joe Jahner makes smooth transition from hardwood to gridiron


In high school football, finding talent is a trademark of a good coach. And Bismarck High coach Mark Gibson may have outdone himself when he turned the top basketball player in the state into a football player.

For Bismarck High senior wide receiver Joe Jahner, this is his second year ever playing football.

“The start of it was hard,” Jahner said, “but then I started to get into the flow of it.”

Two years ago, Coach Mark Gibson saw Joe excel during physical education classes as a freshman and pleaded with him to try football.

“For [Joe] to come out here and do what he’s done is quiet remarkable,” Gibson said.  “He didn’t even know the rules.”

Which was apparent the first time Joe tried to check-in to a varsity game.

“[Coach Gibson] said run to the clock tower place and check in and then run all the way back down,” Jahner said.

“Joe kind of look at me and then look at the press box and I said, ‘Joe, I’m just kidding,'” Gibson said.

“I thought [Coach Gibson] was serious at the time,” Gibson said.

Overall, Joe had a steep learning curve.

“The terminology. I had no idea what certain terms meant,” Jahner said. “Wearing shoulder pads for the first time and a helmet and trying to run and catch a ball was difficult.”

Despite never playing football in his life, Joe was selected as honorable mention for the WDA last season. Now he’s back for his second year.

“Coach said that I better not quit on him,” Jahner said. “He said that he would come hunting after me, if I tried to quit.”

Joe and the Demons take the field for the first time this Friday at Fargo Davies.

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