Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 07 August 2012 16:07
Tabor College has been picked by both coaches and the media to finish in the middle of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference for the upcoming football season.
The Bluejays were ranked seventh by the coaches and sixth by the media during the annual KCAC Media Day Aug. 1 in Salina.
Last season, Tabor went 2-7 in KCAC games and 3-7 overall during Mike Gardner’s second year back as head coach. The Bluejays won two of their last three games to cap the season and finish in an eighth-place tie with Bethel College.
“You are what your history is,” Gardner said. “In terms of pre-season polls, everything is based upon past record. It’s where I thought we would be picked.”
Both Media Day polls made Ottawa University the predominant favorite to win the conference championship.
The Braves received nine of 10 first-place votes from KCAC coaches and 15 of 16 first-place votes from the media.
Last season Ottawa (9-2) won the KCAC title outright by going undefeated in conference play. They lost at Azusa Pacific (Calif.) in the opening round of the NAIA Football Championship Series, 49-26.
Ottawa was ranked No. 10 in the 2012 NAIA Football Coaches’ Spring Top 25 poll with Bethany College coming in at No. 24 and Friends University receiving votes.
Bethany and Friends are expected to be near the top of the KCAC again this fall, with Bethany picked second and Friends third in the coaches poll, and in the reverse order in the media poll.
The week prior to Media Day, two Bluejays were picked as preseason all-KCAC selections in a survey of conference coaches.
Andy Curtis, a 6-foot-4, 292-pound senior from Altus, Okla., was picked for the offensive line, and Chris Sanborn, a 6-3, 245-pound senior from Pinellas Park, Fla., was selected for the defensive line.
Both athletes were second-team All-KCAC selections in 2011.
“I think its great for Chris and Andy to be named preseason all-conference, and they deserve it for what they did last season,” Gardner said. “But three months from now, if they are still on it they will have lived up to the expectations others have placed upon them.
“A lot will happen between now and November,” he added. “We have 120-plus players coming in and we need to evaluate all of them. To be honest we might have a player or two at both Chris and Andy’s spots that will surprise us.
“That’s why I look forward to camp. The process and grind tells you who can count on.”
KCAC Coaches Poll
Ottawa University (9)* 90
Bethany College 75
Friends University (1) 71
Ks. Wesleyan University 60
University of Saint Mary 60
Sterling College 48
Tabor College 40
McPherson College 40
Southwestern College 38
Bethel College 18
* (First-place votes)
KCAC MEDIA Poll
Ottawa University (15) 158
Friends University (1) 130
Bethany College 119
University of Saint Mary 114
Ks. Wesleyan University 98
Tabor College 72
Southwestern College 70
Sterling College 54
McPherson College 46
Bethel College 19
The following players were selected by KCAC coaches for the preseason all-conference team. An asterisk (*) indicates a unanimous choice.
Quarterback: Mike Keese, Saint Mary.
Running back: *Brett Giesen, Ks. Wesleyan; *Junior Allen, Bethany; Michael Baer, Ottawa.
Fullback: Ben Suchsland, Bethel.
Wide receiver: Zach McClain, Ks. Wesleyan; Brandon Martino, Bethany; D’Andre Thompson, Bethany; Austin Williams, Bethel.
Utility: Shane Gimzo, Ottawa.
Tight end: Cody Butts, Friends.
Linemen: *Quinten Flaming, Ottawa; Stephen Beusch, Friends; Nick Qualls, Southwestern; Zach Beims, Sterling; Andy Curtis, Tabor.
Linemen: *Dexter Davis, Friends; *Zach Van Duesen, Ottawa; Josh Hicks, Friends; Chris Sanborn, Tabor.
Linebackers: *Cris Basch, Saint Mary; Marcus Carter, Friends; Brian Noller, Sterling; Matt Gross, Ottawa.
Backs: Donald Anderson, Ottawa; Jeff Koontz, Friends; Nate Bruto, Ottawa; Terry Cobb, Friends.
Kicker: Doug Dunn, Sterling.
Punter: Paul Rotering, McPherson.
Returners: Lorenzo Fouts, Southwestern; Preston Prince, Sterling.