Rubel’s Jays picked 4th in pre-season polls

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
Following an undefeated regular season and a third consecutive national playoff berth, pre-season polls by both the coaches and media picked the Tabor College Bluejays to finish fourth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference this fall.

For the second consecutive year, the KCAC held its annual football preseason media luncheon at the Salina Country Club.

The gathering is sponsored by the colleges and universities that make up the KCAC to allow coaches to talk about their teams and to conduct pre-season polls.

Most coaches used the opportunity to introduce their assistant coaches to the press.

Many coaches spent time talking about the excitement and optimism that come with starting a new season.

Some coaches emphasized the talent and depth that incoming recruits will bring to their programs.

Some coaches described off-season upgrades made to their locker rooms; some described brand new uniforms.

Tabor College head coach Robert Rubel, in his first year at the helm, lacked a helmet to display. He remarked that the Bluejays’ helmets will be “blue with black face masks…. We’re actually going to put the Power Jay back on the helmet.”

While their helmets will be instantly recognizable, some players at key positions may not be so familiar to the fans in the stands at Reimer Field.

Rubel talked at length about his team’s key departures.

“We lost a lot of great people,” he said. “We lost a lot of great football players and we lost a lot of great coaches…. We have a lot of replacing to do.

“And we have a lot of question marks,” he added. “So we’re just going to grind every day and see what we can get done.”

The Tabor coaching staff will be working hard, but filling the starting running back position formerly occupied by 2005 KCAC player of the year Roger Butler will be no easy task.

Butler led the conference in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and yards per rushing attempt.

The Bluejays also lost six other all-conference players during the off-season: offensive lineman James Pisano, running back Ben Brown, wide receiver Layne Frick, linebacker Jake Shenk, defensive lineman Justin Mathias, and defensive back Rob Haude.

While losing players of that calibre would pose a substantial challenge to any football team in the conference, a string of successful seasons has raised expectations for Tabor’s fortunes.

“If we can come together as a team, we can do some special things,” Rubel said.

2006 KCAC Pre-season Polls

Coaches Poll

1t. Kansas Wesleyan (7) 101

1t. Friends (3) 101

3. Sterling 75

4. Tabor 69

5. McPherson 52

6. Ottawa 51

7. Southwestern 49

8. Bethel 47

9t. Bethany 30

9t. Saint Mary 30

Coaches Poll

1. Friends (4) 92

2. Kansas Wesleyan (4) 87

3. Tabor (2) 75

4. Sterling 69

5. Ottawa 54

6. Southwestern 47

7. Bethel 40

8. McPherson 36

9. Saint Mary 30

10. Bethany 20

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