WEATHERFORD, Oklahoma. – After almost two years, the Great American Conference is playing football again and Henderson State will finally return to the field when the Reddies travel to Weatherford, Oklahoma, to face Southwestern Oklahoma State tonight.
The Reddies will look to compete for a conference title after finishing the 2019 season with a 9-3 record and their only two regular season losses were to No.22 Harding and No.5 Ouachita Baptist. HSU hasn’t made the Division II playoffs since 2015, the last time the Reddies won a GAC title.
The Reddies have a stacked offense heading into tonight’s game against the Bulldogs. One of the league’s most notable offensive talents, HSU returns L’Liott Curry, the All-American preseason starter and receiver. In 2019, Curry caught 84 passes for 1,167 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Receiving talent does not stop there. Redshirt senior Chase Lodree caught 40 passes for 666 yards in 2019 en route to second-team All-GAC honors.
Curry and Lodree will catch assists from a new quarterback this season, senior Adam Morse. Morse transferred from the Division I Lamar program in 2019 and won the starting position at fall camp.
The HSU defense proved to be a strike force during the 2019 season, as the Reddies placed third in scoring defense allowing just 19.8 points per game. The team also led the league with 14 interceptions and was fifth overall in defense, allowing for 360.4 yards per game.
The Reddies have important players returning to all three levels of defense, including junior linebacker Jake Chatman who led the team in tackles in 2019 with 62.
HSU sends all of its starters back to special teams, including the team’s returning men. Punt returner Braden Boykin led the GAC and finished sixth in Division II with a punt return average of 16.3 yards during the 2019 season.
SWOSU finished their three previous seasons with a 3-8 record. The Bulldogs have a talented receiver in the transfer from Abilene Christian Torin Justice, but the Bulldogs averaged just 20.9 points and 335.2 yards per game two years ago.
The kick-off is set at 6 p.m.
NO. 13 TIGERS LEAVES FOR A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TITLE
ARKADELPHIA – Ouachita Baptist’s No.13 soccer team kicks off their season when Oklahoma Baptist heads to Cliff Harris Stadium today.
With three straight GAC titles, the Tigers are on an extremely hot streak, having won 27 straight conference games. OBU finished the 2019 season with an 11-1 record and, unsurprisingly, the Tigers finished first in the GAC’s preseason coaching poll.
OBU brings back five All-GAC players, including right tackle Anthony Chairez, defensive end Dameyun McDonald, kicker Gabe Goodman, linebacker Austin Guymon and tight end Hunter Swoboda.
Coming into their first game after nearly two years, the Tigers have rather little backfield experience. Junior TJ Cole is the lone running back on the list with a college carry, while three freshmen, Isaac Edwards, Xaylon Falls and Kendel Givens will join Cole in the backfield.
The Bison finished the 2019 season with a 7-4 record and were selected to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll.
OBU will have to watch out for Preston Haire from Oklahoma Baptist. Haire was the 2019 GAC Offensive Player of the Year, leading the league in passing yards with 3,041 and touchdown passes with 26.
Haire will be able to target wide receiver Josh Cornell who posted a second-best GAC of 1,054 yards in 2019.
While having a few high-powered offensive weapons, the Bison’s defense struggled in 2019, allowing the second-highest points per game in the GAC at 33.1.
Cliff Harris kicks off at 6 p.m.
ARKANSAS TECH AWAITS A PROMISING SEASON
RUSSELLVILLE – Seeking to capitalize on a 2019 3-9 campaign, the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys begin their home season by hosting Southeastern Oklahoma State in Russellville.
The Wonder Boys got off to a rough start in 2019 under then-first-year head coach Kyle Shipp as Tech crawled to a 0-6 start.
However, Shipp started to turn things around, winning three straight games and nearly winning four on the rebound before falling narrowly 31-30 to East Central.
Arkansas Tech is home to a Savage Storm squad that went from 1 to 10 in 2019. Although SEOSU has a dismal record, the Savage Storm boasted of the GAC’s second-best passing attack, averaging 252 , 5 yards per game.
Savage Storm’s offense crash was his worst ever 123.5 rushing yards per game, and the team struggled to score points, averaging just 20 points per game.
The Wonder Boys finished eighth in the GAC preseason coaching poll and will return five starters to the offensive end of the ball.
Running back Caleb Batie, All-GAC honorable wide receiver Drew Wade and wide receiver Trey Smith highlight three returning players for the Wonder Boy offense.
The Tech offense will be looking to break through a Savage Storm midfield defense that allowed 376.7 yards per game in 2019. The Wonder Boys managed to score 24.1 points per game in 2019 and were in the middle of the field at the both in passing attack and in attack.
Arkansas Tech sacks six starters on the defensive end of the ball this season, including safeties Darryn Cain and Tyrus Fort who combined 115 tackles in 2019. In the last season played, the Wonder Boys beat the Savage Storm in Russellville 38- 20 behind 421 yards of attack.
Watching the all-time series, Arkansas Tech dominated SEOSU at Russellville as the Wonder Boys hold a 9-1-1 record over the Savage Storm at home.
Kick-off from Thone Stadium is 6 p.m.
MULERIDERS START THE MCCARTY ERA IN ALVA
ALVA, Oklahoma. –South Arkansas kicks off the Mike McCarty era tonight in Alva, Oklahoma, as the Muleriders take on the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers.
Since 1911, the first-year Mulerider head coaches have been 9-10 in their debut with McCarty leading the 104th SAU football team. SAU is 15-9 in season openings since joining the NCAA in 1996 with an 8-5 record in road openings. They are 6-3 to start their nine seasons in the GAC, having won five of the previous six.
The Muleriders were chosen fifth in the league’s preseason poll, the fifth consecutive season the team was chosen from the top five.
SAU was fifth in offense in 2019 behind returning senior quarterback Hayden Mallory, who finished third in passing yards with the second-best efficiency rating in the league. Mallory will have a handful of familiar faces to target with the return of Dekendrick Bender, Desmond Jones, Micah Small and Brock Price. Freshmen Jariq Scales and Blake May get the green light.
Brock Floyd provides stability in the Mulerider secondary with Del Krisoffer Wade and Onyei Orupabo adding experience at the rear. Veterans Demoni Boyd and Deno Rogers return to help anchor the defensive line.
Austin Wilkerson returns to handle SAU’s kicking responsibilities, having scored 15 of 16 field goals and a perfect 44 PAT.
NWOSU enters tonight’s season opener chosen to finish ninth in a 4-7 2019 campaign. The Rangers finished the previous season with back-to-back wins over Southern Nazarene and SWOSU.
All-GAC winner Sunday Deng returns to the offensive line for NWOSU.
Kick-off is 6 p.m. at Ranger Field.