WILKES-BARRE — Jose Tabora can’t wait to get his hands on his new playbook.
The rising junior quarterback could sense the excitement in the room when he watched his new head coach, former Hobart offensive coordinator Jon Drach, introduced Thursday afternoon in the Marts Center.
Tabora has seen all of Drach’s accolades during his 11 years at the Division 3 powerhouse, including the past three seasons as offensive coordinator. Drach’s offenses have broken six school records and he has coached four Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year winners, two ECAC Offensive Player of the Year winners and seven all-league quarterbacks.
The Wilkes quarterback can only imagine what the duo could do together.
“I can’t even put into words how excited I am. This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for a long time now,” Tabora said. “What stood out to me most was all the quarterbacks that were under him performed at an amazing level and I just hope he can teach me everything he knows because he knows a lot. My ears are open — my head. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to take in everything he’s ready to give.”
For Drach, the first-year head coach isn’t going to pigeon-hole himself into any one scheme. Just like what he did during his time at Hobart.
The Statesman had an All-American quarterback and wide receiver the past two seasons, while in others, Drach’s had a “stud running back” at his disposal. He’s prepared to fit his offense — and defense — to whatever players are on his roster.
“I think at this level you have to be very, very multiple. You have to be very, very versatile,” Drach said. “Being able to have that versatility in the system, without having to change the teaching, adds a lot to the kids and it gives them that ability to execute because when it comes down to it — like I said — kids can only do what they’re able to do. For us to be successful in that, we’re really going to have to play to their best attributes.”
Drach hopes to bring a lot to the Colonels offense — an ability to change tempos, multiplicity in personnel groupings and plays, discipline and an ability to “execute to a point that puts ourselves in a situation to be successful in everything we do.”
If the Colonels can do all of that, Drach believes his team will be effective for years to come.
“I really think there’s got to be four things you do offensively to really be successful, and that’s stay on the field on third down, that’s take care of the football — your plus-minus turnover ratio has to be much, much better than we were last year — we need to score in the red zone and then we need to stay on track and be OK with 3-yard plays. Those are great plays,” Drach said. “If we can stay on track in the run and the pass and be really, really balanced, that’s where we’re going to strive to be offensively, and that’s going to be really, really difficult for teams to defend.”
With the Colonels’ 0-10 campaign in the rear-view mirror, Drach is going into the season with an open mind.
While the new coach will listen to his coaches and has seen some tape of the Colonels, he’s letting his players make their statements in the offseason and preseason. Drach is giving his players a fresh slate.
“I’ll be making my judgments independently of anything I’ve been told or anything I’ve seen,” Drach said. “‘If you want me to think something different of you, go prove that to me — go do it on the field, go do it with your work ethic, go do it in the classroom. I’m a firm believer that your classroom attributes follow over into the football field. If you’re successful in the classroom, you’re successful on the football field.”
After a promising freshman campaign in 2016 — when he played in nine games and was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in an upset win over nationally ranked Stevenson — Tabora had his sophomore season cut short due to a season-ending thumb injury in Week 2 against Lebanon Valley.
But two surgeries — one to fix a torn ligament in his right thumb and a “scheduled” reconstructive surgery on his non-throwing, left shoulder — and a new coach later, Tabora can’t wait for the season to get going in this new era.
“It’s all been building up on top of each other every day,” Tabora said. “I was out last season and that was enough, but everything that’s happened this offseason — is just — I’m ready to go, man. I’m ready to get on the field.”