ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
After the final ballots were tabulated and the 2002 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference’s picks were announced, Tabor College football coach Tim McCarty began to doodle on a notepad.
Asked what he thought about receiving one first-place vote and being voted fourth in the preseason poll, McCarty pointed to his sketch-a hangman.
The Bluejays were projected to finish fourth in the KCAC in both the coaches and media polls, with one exception, a first-place vote by a member of the media.
“These polls scare me to death,” McCarty said. “Obviously, I’m not very comfortable about (the first-place vote). And I feel uptight about that, but I also feel like we received a little respect from the coaches and media.
“I can’t say we’re too high or too low, but I’m awful giddy about where we’re picked,” McCarty said.
Tight-lipped about his recruiting endeavors, McCarty and his staff announced they will add about 40 players to their all-ready thick roster that features 20 returning starters from last season and 47 letter winners.
“I’m real proud of the Kansas kids that we’ve signed,” McCarty said. “The teeter-totter is balanced; it can go up or down. We still feel like we’re a year away.”
The Bethany College Swedes were picked first overall in both polls with 20 first-place votes between the media and the coaches collectively.
Bethany coach Ted Kessinger begins his 27th year with the Swedes alongside the KCAC’s top-rated quarterback in Mike Strack.
The Swedes return 65 players and will bring in 47 new players for the 2002 campaign.
“It all depends on our chemistry,” Kessinger said about his team’s chances. “It should be a pretty good year.”
Despite a head-coaching change at Ottawa University, the Braves were picked second in the media poll and third by the coaches under former Kansas Wesleyan assistant football coach Pat Ross, who now leads the team as head coach.
The Braves received two first-place votes in the coaches poll and one first-place vote in the media poll.
Ross brings with him several coaches from the KWU team from last season and is excited about his team’s chances.
“We have a lot of talent on our football team,” Ross said. “We should be tough.”
KWU, the KCAC’s defending conference champion, was picked to finish second and third by the media and the coaches respectively with one first-place vote in the coaches poll.
“We have some key players we need to replace,” coach Dave Dallas said. “We feel we have a good nucleus coming back and we feel pretty good about the upcoming season.”
Southwestern College, in the midst of several off-season coaching changes, finally decided on former Moundbuilder football player Chris Douglas, and was tabbed fifth by coaches and media despite their many seasons atop the KCAC pre-season list.
According to Douglas and his young staff, the Moundbuilders will challenge for the conferences top honor.
“The cupboards aren’t bare,” Douglas said. “We expect to have 80 guys that are going to contend for a KCAC conference championship.”
Friends University was picked sixth by both polls, while Sterling College and Bethel College flip-flopped positions in the polls, with Sterling at seventh in the media poll and eighth in the coaches poll, and Bethel at the seventh spot in the coaches and eighth in the media.
McPherson College and Saint Mary College brought up the ninth and tenth-place predictions respectively in both polls.