TC football tops media day polls

Mike Gardner talks to members of the media at the 2016 KCAC Football Media Day Thursday. Tabor topped both the preseason coaches’ and media polls tabulated at the event.
Mike Gardner talks to members of the media at the 2016 KCAC Football Media Day Thursday. Tabor topped both the preseason coaches’ and media polls tabulated at the event.
The Tabor College football team topped both the preseason coaches’ and media polls tabulated at the 2016 KCAC Football Media Day Thursday.

The Bluejays return 38 lettermen and 12 starters, six on offense and six on defense.

One of coach Mike Gardner’s biggest questions heading into fall camp is who will win the quarterback battle to replace KCAC Offensive Player of the Year Simon McKee under center.

Three quarterbacks, and possibly more, are vying for the starting nod. Gardner hinted at a possible change in offensive scheme, depending on the strengths of his new signal caller.

“Obviously, we’ve run the triple option the last few years,” he said. “Now if our quarterback can do that, great. If our quarterback can’t do that, we’ve got a plan in place.”

In sustaining some defensive losses as well, including two All-Americans in Dylan Delk and Derrick Lawrence, finding chemistry will be important for the Bluejays.

“Defensively, we lost a lot there obviously,” Gardner said. “Any time you go through that transition, you’ve got to find chemistry. The thing I appreciated about what we went through in the spring is I think we found some guys there that are going to be able to help us.”

Gardner said last year’s seniors did a good job of educating the younger players in the program. Now, it is time for new leaders to step up.

“We have an interesting senior class because a lot of these guys have kind of inherited some on-field success, but they have been role-players within that success as opposed to being an every-down player,” Gardner said. “It’s their opportunity now to step up.”

Tabor was picked to finish first in both polls, receiving six first-place votes in the coaches’ poll and 12 first-place votes in the media poll.

The Bluejays will kick off their season Sept. 3 at No. 15 Dakota Wesleyan. Tabor’s first home game will be Sept. 17 against Ottawa at 7 p.m.

2016 Coaches Poll

1. Tabor (87 votes, 6 first)

2. Kansas Wesleyan (81, 3)

3. Ottawa (74, 1)

4. Friends (64)

5. Sterling (62)

6. Saint Mary (42)

T7. Bethany (41)

T7. Bethel (41)

9. Southwestern (30)

10. McPherson (18)

2016 Media Poll

1. Tabor (188 votes, 12 first)

2. Kansas Wesleyan (172, 5)

3. Ottawa (164, 2)

4. Sterling (142, 1)

5. Friends (115)

6. Bethel (85)

7. Saint Mary (78)

8. Bethany (74)

9. Southwestern (57)

10. McPherson (25)