Henderson, Harding Make D2 Top 25 Poll

D2 Top 25 Poll Features to Arkansas football teams from the Great American Conference

The Henderson State Reddies have landed at No. 12 in the preseason D2 Top 25 Poll, and the Harding Bison come in the D2 Top 25 at No. 25. The complete poll is below.

Earlier in the preseason, the Reddies were the unanimous choice by the coaches of the Great American Conference to repeat as football champions.

The Reddies received 10 of the 11 possible first-place votes and 100 points total. Coaches were not permitted to vote on their own team.

The Reddies, who claimed the 2012 conference title last with a 10-0 regular-season record, return 11 all-conference selections including Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Kevin Rodgers, and Freshman of the Year linebacker Tim Llewellyn.

“It will be a big challenge for us to repeat,” said Coach Scott Maxfield. “We play a 10-game conference schedule and everyone will be giving us their best game. This league is much better than a year ago and we will have to be ready to play each week.”

The Reddies, ranked No. 9 in Lindy’s Preseason Top 25 poll and No. 16 by the Sporting News, return eight starters from an offense that led Division II in scoring (50.4 points per game) and was third in total yards (516.8 yards per game) and passing yards (377.6).

Despite losing its leading rusher, Henderson returns four of its top receivers along with running backKevin Nichols. Nichols rushed for 340 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2012.

Meanwhile, in Searcy, the Harding Bison football team prepares to open the 2013 season Thursday in Weatherford, Okla., against the same team it ended the 2012 regular season against – Southwestern Oklahoma State. Kickoff at Fast Lane Field will be at 6:30 p.m.

The game will air live in Searcy on KVHU 95.3-FM with Billy Morgan and Jerry Mote on the call. Live audio and statistics will be available through a link on HardingSports.com

Harding won last season’s game 38-7 in Searcy in its last game before earning its first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs.


·         Harding has 37 letterwinners returning off last seasons’ team that finished 9-2 overall, 7-1 (2nd place) in the Great American Conference. Harding returns eight players who started last season on offense and one (Erik Ragsdale) on defense.

·         Thursday’s game is the first of 10 GAC games for the Bisons. The 2013 season will be the first in program history that every game of the regular season is a conference game.

·         Harding head coach Ronnie Huckeba is in his seventh season as head coach of the Bisons. HU is 4-1 in season openers under Huckeba and has won the last four straight.

·         The Bisons are 39-20-3 (.653) all-time in the first game of a season and have won 10 of their last 11. Harding has never opened a season against Southwestern Okla.

Southwestern Okla.

·         After increasing their win total in each of head coach Dan Cocannouer‘s first three years on the job, the Southwestern Oklahoma State University slipped up slightly in 2012 as they finished the season 3-7 (2-6 Great American Conference), tying for seventh place in the GAC standings. This season, the Bulldogs welcome back 14 starters and 38 letterwinners.

·         Six starters return for the Bulldogs offense, including record-setting quarterback Dustin Stenta,  preseason All-American tight end Ryan Corbin, and three offensive linemen. Experience is also a benefit on the defensive side of the ball where SWOSU returns eight starters and seven of their ten leading tacklers from 2012.

The Harding/Southwestern Okla. Series

·         Harding and Southwestern Okla. have played eight times, beginning in 1994 with a 39-27 Bison victory in Searcy. Harding leads the series 5-3 overall and 2-0 in GAC games. The teams have met twice in Weatherford and split those games with Southwestern Okla. winning 18-0 in 1995 and Harding winning 20-9 in 1998.

·         Harding rushed for 479 yards on 64 carries and had eight rushing touchdowns vs. Southwestern Okla. in a 70-28 victory in 2011. It ranks as the third-best rushing game in program history in terms of yards gained and the second-most rushing touchdowns. The Bisons gained 556 yards in the game, the ninth-highest total in program history.

·         Southwestern Okla. passed for 438 yards and four touchdowns in that game. It ranks ninth in passing yards in a game by a Harding opponent.


     Team 2012 Record
1 Valdosta State 12-2
2 Minnesota State 13-1
3 Northwest Missouri 10-3
4 West Texas A&M 12-3
5 Missouri Western 12-2
6 CSU-Pueblo 12-1
7 Ashland 11-1
8 Winston-Salem 14-1
9 Grand Valley 8-3
10 IUP 12-2
11 Minnesota Duluth 10-2
12 Henderson State 10-1
13 West Alabama 9-4
14 Shippensburg 11-2
15 Midwestern State 9-2
16 Bloomsburg 10-2
17 Carson-Newman 9-3
18 Saginaw Valley 8-3
19 New Haven 10-1
20 Pittsburg State 7-3
21 Chadron State 9-3
22 Indianapolis 10-3
23 Lenoir-Rhyne 9-3
24 Shepherd 8-3
25 Harding 9-2

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