UMHB is ASC's pick to win

Mary Hardin-Baylor has been predicted to win its fifth straight American Southwest Conference football title in 2010 after a vote by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members, the ASC office announced on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Earning preseason player of the year honors were Hardin-Simmons' Justin Feaster (offense) and Hank Hornsby (defense), and Louisiana College's Jordan Rideaux (special teams).

Mary Hardin-Baylor, which went 10-2 overall (7-1 in ASC) and reached the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs last season, totaled 237 points and collected 21 of the possible 27 first-place votes in the annual preseason poll to be the tabbed the favorites. Coach Pete Fredenburg's Cru has won at least a share of the ASC title in seven of the last eight seasons, going 63-4 over that time frame in conference games.

Hardin-Simmons, which went 6-4 (5-3 in ASC) during an injury-plagued season last year, was picked as the conference runner-up. The seven-time ASC champion Cowboys totaled 206 points and three top-spot votes.

Defending ASC co-champion Mississippi College (9-3, 7-1), which also reached the second round of the playoffs in 2009, was predicted to finish third with 182 points and garnered one first-place vote. Louisiana College (168 points) was picked to finish fourth and landed the final two top-spot votes, followed by McMurry, East Texas Baptist, Howard Payne, Sul Ross State and Texas Lutheran.

Feaster, a senior quarterback, was named ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, following his selection as a preseason All-American. Last season, the 6-1, 205-pound Feaster tossed five touchdowns in three games before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2008, he threw for a league-high 3,023 yards and 31 TDs against just eight interceptions and was named a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, an award given to honor the most outstanding NCAA Division III football player.

Hornsby, a senior end, was named ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-3, 238-pound Hornsby posted 44 tackles in 2010 and ranked in the league's top 10 in the categories of sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (10.5 for 48 yards). Hornsby spearheaded a unit that ranked second in the ASC in total defense, yielding only 3,366 yards over 10 games.

Rideaux, a senior return man, was selected as ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. The 5-8, 170-pound Rideaux has claimed the final award two consecutive years. He led the league last season with a 9.8-yard average on punt returns and also returned kicks at 23.5 yards per clip, finding the end zone once each way. Rideaux also led the ASC in receiving yards (1,157), receptions per game (7.8) and all-purpose yards (1,501).

The poll, as voted on by ASC coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members:
Team (first place votes), Points, 2009 Record
1. Mary Hardin-Baylor (21) 237, 10-2, 7-1 ASC (T1st)
2. Hardin-Simmons (3) 206, 6-4, 5-3 ASC (4th)
3. Mississippi College (1) 182, 9-3, 7-1 ASC (T1st)
4. Louisiana College (2) 168, 7-3, 6-2 ASC (3rd)
5. McMurry 135, 4-6, 4-4 ASC (5th)
6. East Texas Baptist 110, 3-7, 3-5 ASC (6th)
7. Howard Payne 81, 4-6, 2-6 ASC (T7th)
8. Sul Ross State 53, 2-8, 2-6 ASC (T7th)
9. Texas Lutheran 43, 0-10, 0-8 ASC (9th)