Tabor’s Rubel is rarin’ to go

Tabor College football coach Robert Rubel has been working on his craft for more than a decade.

Competitive by nature, and a former player, Rubel jumped into coaching at the first opportunity.

Ten years later, he has arrived in Hillsboro with a chance to coach a team that is increasingly visible at a national level.

Rubel started by working with the baseball team at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, but his drive to coach football took him to high schools Texas and Oklahoma.

“Playing got me interested in coaching, I enjoy teaching, and I like strategy,” Rubel said.

Before the 2000 season, he was offered a chance to be a defensive coordinator at the college level by Cisco Junior College.

His skills as a defensive coordinator became a springboard. He has worked in that capacity at North Dakota State College of Science and Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

From there, Rubel moved to Abilene Christian University, a place he said is “like a bigger version of Tabor” with 4,800 students.

Faith and family played big parts in that move, as they are in Rubel’s adjustment to Hillsboro.

“It has been a really easy transition (from Abilene to Hillsboro) for my family,” he said.

Abilene is “fast moving, has great Mexican restaurants and lots to do,” he said.

Rubel calls Abilene and Wichita Falls “nice towns” of roughly 100,000; they are both places he has called home.

“The problem was there were so many people you can’t build relationships like you can here.”

Comparing Tabor to ACU, Rubel said the Christian environment at both schools “definitely more similar than different.”

While he was at ACU, the team traveled to Kansas to play Southwestern, and Rubel watched a scrimmage.

“I told coach Goepferd ‘I’d like coaching in the KCAC.”

But coaching at Tabor is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to recruiting.

“Finding the right guy is hard,” Rubel said. “So is getting recruits to visit. But once they’re here, we have a great chance because of the people.”

The task of luring prospective student-athletes to Tabor might be getting easier.

Success in the national playoffs in recent years has raised both Tabor’s and the KCAC’s visibility, according to Rubel.

And the recognition is extending beyond football.

“People are finding out the KCAC is a strong conference in all its sports,” he said.

TC vs. KWU preview

The Tabor College Bluejays will kick off their season against the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 in Hillsboro.

The Coyotes went 8-2 in 2005; former Bluejay Roger Butler scored three touchdowns as Tabor beat KWU 32-13 in the season opener.

In that game, 2005 KCAC Offensive Player of the Year Darell Grames ran 98 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown for the Coyotes. As a junior, Grames led all running backs in the conference by averaging 163 rushing yards per game.

Propelled by their consistent rushing attack, the Kansas Wesleyan offense averaged 323 yards per game and scored 26 touchdowns.

The Coyote defense allowed their opponents only 19 points per game, third best in the KCAC.

Grames is one of 16 returning starters for a Kansas Wesleyan team widely viewed as a top contender in the KCAC in 2006.

The preseason coaches poll ranked the Coyotes second, one behind Friends University and one place ahead of the Bluejays.

The Tabor offense ran 900 plays in 12 games last season, churning up mor than 5,000 yards of total offense and scoring 38 points per game.

The Bluejay defense matched that level of intensity and held the opposition to 18 points per game.

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