The 2019 Lone Star Conference season is going to be one of the most competitive in all of Division II.
That’s as obvious as saying “water is wet”. Year in and year out, the LSC champion has to run a gauntlet through a rough schedule, earning the right to the prestigious crown.
The past two years has proven how good this league is.
Two years ago, Texas A&M-Commerce made a historic run to the program’s first ever national title.
Last season, Tarleton, which won its first outright conference title in school history, were three-points away from advancing to a national semifinal before falling to No. 1 Minnesota State-Mankato, 13-10, in a quarterfinal snow storm.
The way the league is shaping up again this season, it seems once again this could be a fun race to November.
Here are five storylines heading into the 2019 LSC season
Top 5 Storylines entering the LSC season
Tarleton won its first outright LSC championship in program history last season. [Provided by Tarleton athletics]
1. Will Tarleton go back-to back: The Texans are the LSC preseason favorite, taking 19 of 22 first place votes in the preseason poll.
Tarleton (12-1 overall last year) also earned its highest preseason national ranking in program history, coming in at No. 7 in the AFCA Division II Coaches’ Top 25.
The Texans returns 14 All-LSC players including QB Ben Holmes. Holmes was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA.
Defensivlely, first-team All-American and reigning LSC Defensive Back of the Year Devin Hafford returns in the secondary.
Former Rice coach David Baintliff takes over for Colby Carthel at Texas A&M-Commerce. [Provided by TAMC athletics]
2. A new Sheriff in town: For the first time since 2006, the charismatic Colby Carthel will not be coaching in the conference. Carthel left his post at Texas A&M-Commerce to take over as the new man at Stephen F. Austin State.
Enter David Baintliff who was hired last December. He spent the past 10 years at Rice, taking the Owls to four bowl games.
West Texas A&M opens its brand new Buffaloes Stadium against Azusa Pacific on Saturday. [Provided by WT athletics]
3. A new era: West Texas A&M said goodbye to historic Kimbrough Stadium, a placed they called home since 1959, and will say hello to their new 9,000 seat on-campus Buffaloes Stadium on Sept. 7, against Azusa Pacific. It’s a pivotal opener for third-year head coach Hunter Hughes who’s hoping this is the turning point year for his program.
Junior quarterback Zach Purcell has been named the starter for the Mustangs opener against N.W. State (LA). [Provided by MSU athletics]
4. Who will replace Layton Rabb: MSU-Texas head coach Bill Maskill has a dilemma opening his 18th season. That problem is how he’ll fill the shoes of gunslinging quarterback Layton Rabb. Rabb, the league’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 3,114 yards with 29 TD strikes a year ago. As of now, junior Zach Purcell takes the reigns. Purcell was 16 of 23 for 144 yards in four games as a backup in 2018.
Coach Kelley Lee is 13-8 entering his third season at ENMU. [Provided by ENMU athletics]
5. Can ENMU break through: Each year the Greyhounds are on the cusp of being legit contenders in the LSC. However, a game or two always holds them back.
When ENMU plays the Commerce’s, MSU-Texas’ and Tarleton’s, it’s always close, but coach Kelley Lee’s team can’t seem to get over that hump. With savvy QB Wyatt Strand returning along with running back Paul Terry and a physical defense, this could be the year to break that barrier.
Week 1 LSC schedule
Western Oregon at Angelo State, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7
Azusa Pacific at W. Texas A&M, 6 p.m.
Tarleton at Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m.
MSU-Texas at NW State (La.), 6 p.m.
Selecciòn Nuevo Leòn at A&M-Commerce, 6 p.m.
Missouri S&T at E. New Mexico, 7 p.m.
Saginaw Valley St. At A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m.
W. New Mexico at Ottawa (Az.), 8 p.m.