Texas Lutheran was picked fourth in the 2019 American Southwest Conference Preseason Football Poll after a vote of the league’s head coaches and directors of sports information, the ASC office announced on Tuesday.
TLU sophomore place-kicker Juan Ocampo was named the 2019 ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year, and Ocampo and senior defensive end Manny Longoria were among the 12 ASC student-athletes named to the ASC’s “Players to Watch” team.
Defending national champion University of Mary Hardin-Baylor was the top choice among the coaches and SIDs.
Hardin-Simmons University senior running back Jaquan Hemphill was voted as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
UMHB senior defensive lineman Joey Longoria was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
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 Crusaders won their 14th consecutive ASC title in 2018. UMHB led the NCAA in scoring offense in 2018 with 53.4 points per game, and the Crusaders defense led the nation with a +2.20 turnover margin.
Hardin-Simmons (9-2 / 8-1 ASC) received 189 points, including one first-place vote, 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. Hardin-Simmons was 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).
TLU (7-3, 6-3 ASC) was picked fourth after tying with ETBU for third in last year’s standings. TLU defeated ETBU in conference play 28-21 last season in Seguin.
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 were 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, Nov. 23.
Hemphill 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 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 Crusaders. Longoria was a D3football.com Preseason All-America First Team pick.
Ocampo was the 2018 ASC Freshman of the Year as he was perfect in the kicking game. Ocampo was 45-for-45 on extra-point attempts and 8-of-8 in field goals, including a long of 44 yards.
Ocampo also was named to the 2018 First Team All-South Region Team by D3football.com. and he was a First Team All-ASC selection.
TLU’s Manny Longoria, a preseason All-American as chosen by D3football.com. was a Second Team All-South Region choice and a First Team All-ASC selection.
Longoria ended his 2018 with 37 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss (108 yards in losses), and 10.0 sacks (77 yards in losses). He also had five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery (which he returned 41 yards for a score).
The 2019 season gets underway Thursday, Sept. 5 as McMurry travels to San Antonio to face Trinity University and Belhaven plays at cross-town rival Millsaps.
TLU has a bye in its first week. The Bulldogs host Hendrix College (Ark.) in Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.