The American Southwest Conference football preseason coaches and media poll was released Tuesday, and the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets are picked to finish ninth in the 10-team league.
The Yellow Jackets, coming off a 1-9 campaign with a 1-8 conference record in head coach Braxton Harris' first season, received 62 points in the poll — one point more than Belhaven (2-8, 1-8), the lone team HPU defeated in 2017.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (14-1, 9-0), coming off its 13th straight conference championship and second consecutive appearance in the national championship game, is tabbed to win the ASC title once again with 23 first-place votes and 293 points.
The rest of the picks included Hardin-Simmons (9-2, 8-1) in second place with seven first-place votes and 276 points followed by East Texas Baptist (7-3, 6-3) with 222 points, Texas Lutheran (6-4, 6-3) with 204 points, Southwestern (6-4, 6-3) with 200 points, Sul Ross (5-5, 4-5) with 141 points, Louisiana College (3-7, 2-7) with 113 points, McMurry (2-8, 2-7) with 84 points, then Howard Payne.
Hardin-Simmons senior running back Jaquan Hemphill, a Coleman graduate, is the ASC preseason offensive player of the year, while UMHB senior linebacker Tevin Jones is the ASC preseason defensive player of the year. Hardin-Simmons returner Reece Childress was selected ASC preseason special teams player of the year.
Howard Payne opens its season Sept. 8 at George Fox University in Oregon, then begins ASC action Sept. 15 against McMurry at Gordon Wood Stadium.