Tabor College has had some talented football players over the years. But until now, if you were asked to name Tabor?s best football player of all time, the conversation started and ended with Rolland ?Bay? Lawrence.
It was a no-brainer. Who else had his legacy of success? After all, Lawrence was not only a great athlete at Tabor, he became an All-Pro cornerback in a distinguished career with the Atlanta Falcons.
Now that Bluejay senior James Monroe has broken Lawrence?s all-time rushing record at Tabor, is it time to open the door a crack to include Monroe in the discussion of all-time best football players at the school?
Trying to determine the best football player at my alma mater is one of those subjective questions for local sports fans and sports columnists to debate.
The one aspect of this debate that troubles me is that whenever you name someone No. 1 and the other person No. 2, some will say you are snubbing whomever is No. 2. Nothing could be further from the truth. We?re simply comparing two great athletes.
It?s an inherently unfair question, because how do you compare two such outstanding running backs from markedly different eras in Tabor football history?
When Lawrence traveled from Franklin, Pa., to Hills?boro to play college football, Tabor?s football program was in its infant stages. How Tabor managed to attract an athlete with Lawrence?s skills has to be one of the all-time great recruiting coups in Tabor athletic history.
Lawrence was able to accomplish remarkable things on losing teams. He was asked to do it all: play quarterback, running back, special teams and defensive back.
He was a playmaker. He could stop on a dime and change directions. He embarrassed more than a few defensive players. I still remember his 99-yard touchdown run against Friends University.
Monroe was less flashy, but no less effective in running the football. He broke Lawrence?s career rushing mark of 3,008 yards in 1972 by rushing for 197 yards against Friends University in mid-October with four more games to play.
Even when teams knew Monroe would get the ball, he still racked up the yards, so much so that he now holds Tabor?s career rushing record by a considerable margin.
Monroe?s teams experienced far more success, but then he had more talent and depth around him than Lawrence did back in the day.
I marveled at how many tackles Monroe broke and how many yards he made after contact. Often he made more than five yards even when he was hit near the line of scrimmage.
Both athletes were durable. Both played hard. Both were amazing in their own right. Both men seem to be humble and appreciate each other?s accomplishments. And it was classy that Lawrence was on hand for Monroe?s last home game.
Are there other football players who should be in this discussion? Possibly, although I believe these are the top two.
Given that Lawrence is certainly Tabor?s best all-around athlete?he also was a good basketball player and outstanding in track?it should come as no surprise that Lawrence is my personal pick as Tabor?s all-time best football player with Monroe No. 2.
If you prefer Monroe as No. 1 and Lawrence No. 2, I can respect that because, however you slice it, they were two special players.
The exploits of the Hills?boro High School girls in volleyball, basketball, cross country, softball and tennis have been well documented by the Free Press. Those exploits have continued for a number of years now.
It is an amazing run of success, and it?s impressive that a school Hillsboro?s size can be so dominant and/or competitive in so many sports year in and year out.
I don?t know when this stretch of success will slow or come to an end. My advice is to simply enjoy it and don?t take it for granted.