Mary Hardin-Baylor enters 2014 at number 7 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 13-1 (6-0) American Southwest Conference
In their 14 games last season, Mary Hardin-Baylor allowed double-digit points only seven times. They finished the season with the 11th best scoring defense in D3, allowing an average of only 13.4 ppg. The crazy part? Defense wasn’t even their strength. The offense scored more than 30 points in all but one game last season, 40 or more in eight games, 50 or more in five, and one game – against conference “rival” Howard Payne – they won by a score of 80-0. Crusaders indeed.
Lead by Elijah Hudson, Zach Anderson, and Michael Carpenter, the stable of Crusader running backs carried the ball for 3,762 yards and 47 TDs. Seven players carried the ball 25 or more time last season, and all [tooltip text=”but one” gravity=”n”]The one who didn’t, Caleb Moore, carried the ball 66 times for 315 yards and 5 TDs – that’s 4.8 yards per carry.[/tooltip] averaged better than five yards per carry. The Crusaders finished top ten in the country in scoring offense, rushing defense, and offensive first downs, but 170th in D3 in time of possession with an average TOP of 28:52 per game. They scored their points quickly. The American Southwest Conference stood no chance against Mary Hardin-Baylor, who remained undefeated all the way to the National Semifinals. It was there they finally met their match in Wisconsin-Whitewater and fell 16-15 to end their season.
– Josh Holt OL – First team All-ASWC
– Montana Duncan OL – First team All-ASWC
– Elijah Hudson RB – First team All-ASWC, 224 carries, 1,150 yards, 12 TDs
– Korey Steward DE – First team All-ASWC, 44 tackles, 14 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 FR, 1 BK
– Silvio Diaz DT – ASWC Defensive Player of the Year/Defensive Lineman of the Year, First team All-ASWC, 50 tackles, 14 TFL, 11 sacks, 1 FR, 3 FFs
– Andy McAteer LB – First team All-ASWC, 83 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT, 7 pass defenses, 2 FFs
– Cody Jones DB – First team All-ASWC, 83 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INTs, 19 pass defenses, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 BK
– Brodrick Crain DB – First team All-ASWC, 83 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INTs, 26 pass defenses, 1 FR, 1 BK
– Chad Peevey K/P – ASWC Special Teams Player of the Year, First team All-ASWC (P), 5/7 FGs (71.4%), long of 47, 65 punts, 42.5 yard average, 114 kickoffs, 57.9 yard average
What to Watch For
Improvement – It’s a scary thought for the other schools in the ASWC, but this Mary Hardin-Baylor team could be better in 2014 than they were a season ago. Ten Crusaders earned first team all-conference honors last season, and nine are gone, but the cupboards are certainly not bare. Five Crusaders were named to the all-conference second team and all five will be back, seven Crusaders received honorable mention and six of them will be back. The only offensive skill position player to graduate was Elijah Hudson, a top-quality running back for sure, but the only Mary Hardin-Baylor running backs with double-digit totes to leave. The other ten will be back. Scary.
This Mary Hardin-Baylor team is one of three or four teams who should go into the 2014-15 season with legitimate championship aspirations. They were arguably the most dominant team in Division 3 last season – in all but one game. It’s the memory of that game, the loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the National Semifinals, that will make them all the more dangerous this season – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and no passion like a football team denied. These guys spent all summer thinking about that loss – thinking about that loss and training to make sure it never happens again. Don’t be surprised to see the Crusaders finish the season undefeated, trophy in hand.