Rustyn Kerbs of Tampa had quite an adjustment to make when he advanced from Centre’s 1A eight-man football team to the Tabor College Bluejays. Kerbs red-shirted as a freshman, and is in his fifth year on the team.
The team has an overall record of 10-1 and is undefeated in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference at 9-0. With their 26-17 victory over Bethel Saturday, the Bluejays have clinched the conference title. They are ranked ninth nationally in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics TOP 25 poll.
“It feels really good to be a part of this team,” Kerbs said. “It was a difficult transition getting used to the size of the team and the ability of the players. I worked through that and became a better football player.”
Kerbs was on a Centre team that finished 10-1 in 2010-11, his senior year, losing only to Baileyville B&B, which eventually won the state championship. He was a first-team all-league player and was selected to play in the eight-man all-star game.
“Rustyn was an extremely hard worker and spent a lot of time in the weight room,” his high school coach Kelly Steiner said. “He was a good leader and expected people to do the right thing. He played halfback for us and was a threat not only to run the ball but also catching the ball.”
Tabor coach Mike Gardner said he knew when he recruited Kerbs that he had potential to be a good player.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Gardner said. “Rustyn is a testament to what can happen if you are patient and work at it. If every freshman came in with the same attitude as he had, we would be a top program every year.”
The Tabor senior began varsity play last year on special teams. He has seen action as a running back almost all year this season and is the team’s fourth-leading rusher. He has the team’s second-highest average of 4.4 yards per carry. He also plays the safety position on defense.
Kerbs said his best offensive game was Oct. 10 against Southwestern. He was the leading rusher with 25 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown.
This is the second year during his time on the team that Tabor has advanced to the playoffs. The first time was in 2013, when they got to the second round.
“I love being on the team,” he said. “We’re really close, and we play for each other. It’s really cool.”
He is a psychology major and hopes someday to have his own clinical practice. Russell and Julie Kerbs are his parents.