Tabor football season good, but falls short of expectations

Let?s be clear. The final record for Tabor College football was disappointing. Expecta?tions were high, with many picking them to win the KCAC.

Let?s also be very clear that while the Bluejays fell short of expectations, it wasn?t completely unexpected.

Injuries always play an important role in how successful a team will be. Injuries to key positions such as quarterback can throw a monkey wrench into the best laid plans. And the injury to the starting quarterback in the second game was just the most pronounced.

Tabor runs an option offense. Last year, Tabor coped better with the loss of starting quarterback Simon McKee. This year, the team was inconsistent offensively after he went down in the second game of the season with an injury.

Not only was McKee a slick ball handler and runner, but his passing had improved, making the offense extra potent. It was never the same after he went down. The offense still had its moments, to be sure, but it also struggled to pick up first downs late in games, which in turn, proved costly.

Here?s how I?d break down the season.

? Tabor 36, Nebraska Wesleyan University 0. This was an impressive and dominating showing for the Bluejays. The offense and defense were clicking. There were some minor issues, but it was a great opening game.

? Tabor 27, Missouri Valley College 17. This was Tabor?s biggest win, coming on the road against the 7th-ranked team in the NAIA. The Bluejays were rolling when McKee was knocked out for the season in the second quarter.

Still, it was an overall impressive performance. Missouri Valley went on to compile a 9-3 with a 1-1 record in the post-season playoffs. Tabor scored more points on Missouri Valley than anyone else through 11 games.

? Tabor 35, St. Mary?s 14. Another nice win for the Bluejays. Hard to find anything negative about this performance on the road against a conference foe.

? Tabor 19, Sterling 3. A solid home win against a very good team. Tabor?s defense was outstanding. However, one wondered whether Tabor could continue to win without being able to throw the ball. Still, Tabor is ranked No. 3 in the NAIA and the future looks bright.

? Southwestern 27, Tabor 6. There?s no escaping that this was a bad loss, particularly since it was Southwestern?s only win of the season. The offense didn?t do much and the defense wasn?t as stellar as it had been against better competition. It?s a team effort though. When the offense can?t move the ball, the defense is on the field more than it should be. That recipe rarely works well.

? Tabor 70, Kansas Wesleyan 35. This was a nice bounce-back win, but may have been a little misleading. Wesleyan?s defense was awful and made Tabor?s offense look better than it really was.

? Friends 14, Tabor 11. A hard-fought game and a tough homecoming loss for the Bluejays. Tabor had plenty of opportunities, but Friends deserved to win.

? McPherson 15, Tabor 14. This was another home loss and a bit of a head-scratcher. Tabor led most of the way, but the offense was unable to move the ball in the fourth quarter, and the defense finally wore down late in the game.

? Tabor 35, Bethany 14. This was another surprisingly easy win on the road. Go figure.

? Tabor 20, Bethel 14. Tabor wasn?t overly impressive, but a win is a win. Bethel was improved, but the Bluejays found a way to win another road game.

? Ottawa 17, Tabor 15. Another tough home loss. Tabor played well enough to win, but Ottawa made more plays in the fourth quarter and Tabor?s offense once again disappeared late.

To summarize, Tabor could easily have been 9-2 or 10-1. If healthy, they might have run the table. Instead, everyone is left pondering what might have been. Sometimes it just isn?t meant to be.

*?*?*

Say what you will about major college football, but there?s something to be said for attending a Tabor game and spending less than three hours in the stands.

The admission price is a bargain and many people in the stands are on a first-name basis with some of the players. You can park close to the stadium, and it?s amazing how fast games go without commercials and replays. It?s all good.

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