RICHARDSON, Texas – Mary Hardin-Baylor has been picked to win the 2019 American Southwest Conference football title after a vote of the league’s head coaches and directors of sports information, the ASC office announced on Tuesday (August 20).
Hardin-Simmons senior running back Jaquan Hemphill was voted as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while UMHB senior defensive lineman Joey Longoria was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and Texas Lutheran sophomore kicker Juan Ocampo earned Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year honors.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (15-0 / 9-0 ASC) received 199 points in the preseason poll and recorded 19 out of a possible 20 first-place votes. The Cru are the defending national champions, winning their 14th consecutive ASC title in the process. UMHB led the NCAA in scoring offense in 2018 with 53.4 points per game, while the defense led with a 2.20 turnover margin.
Hardin-Simmons (9-2 / 8-1 ASC) received 189 points, including one first-place votes, to come in second in the preseason poll. HSU has finished no lower than fourth in the league standings in each of the last 23 seasons, including a three-way tie for the championship in 2015. The Cowboys ranked fourth in Division III in scoring offense (48.0 points per game) and fifth in total offense (524.8 yards) en route to their ninth trip to the NCAA Championship Playoffs. HSU were No. 9 in the D3football.com Preseason Poll.
East Texas Baptist (6-4 / 6-3 ASC) was picked third in the preseason poll with 148 points. The Tigers tied for third in the 2018 standings. They ranked sixth in the nation in total offense (510.4).
Texas Lutheran (7-3, 6-3 ASC) was picked fourth after tying with ETBU for third last year. Southwestern (6-4, 5-4 ASC) and Louisiana College (5-5, 5-4 ASC) were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the preseason poll after tying for fifth place. They are followed by Howard Payne (1-9, 1-8 ASC) in seventh, Belhaven (2-8, 2-7 ASC) and Sul Ross State (1-9, 1-8 ASC) in a tie for eighth and McMurry (2-8, 2-7) in tenth.
Belhaven has completed its final year of transition into Division III athletics and will be eligible for the ASC title and selection to the NCAA Championship for the first time
With 10 eligible members, the ASC will once again have an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championship in 2019. The regular season champion will be selected to the playoffs which begin on Saturday, November 23.
Hemphill (Coleman, Texas) was the 2017 ASC Offensive Player of the Year when he ran for 1,028 yards and 14 touchdowns with 317 yards and three scores receiving. He was a D3football.com All-American Honorable Mention that season. Hemphill rushed 60 times for 675 yards (11.2 per carry) and nine touchdowns in four games before missing the rest of 2018 with an injury.
Longoria (Pearland, Texas) was the 2018 ASC Defensive Lineman of the Year and a Second Team All-America selection by AFCA and D3football.com. He had 12.5 tackles for a loss of 77 yards, 8.5 sacks for 60 yards, 66 tackles, four pass breakups and a forced fumbles for the national champion Cru. Longoria was a D3football.com Preseason All-America First Team pick.
Ocampo (Lockhart, Texas) was the 2018 ASC Freshman of the Year as he was perfect in the kicking game. Ocampo was 45-for-45 in extra point attempts and 8-of-8 in field goals, including a long of 44 yards.
The 2019 season gets underway Thursday, September 5 as McMurry travels to San Antonio, Texas to face Trinity and Belhaven plays at cross-town rival Millsaps.
The NCAA Division III Football Championship playoffs begin Nov. 23, with the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl national championship game scheduled for Dec. 20 at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah, Texas. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is the host for the Stagg Bowl.