By David Salley & Brian Ramsey
HSU/OBU Sports Information
RUSSELLVILLE — With the beginning of the 2022 football season less than a month away, Arkadelphia’s two collegiate teams are picked to finish well in the Great American Conference, according to the league’s head coaches.
Henderson State was tabbed to finish fourth after finishing in a tie for second place last season with a 9-2 campaign. This selection comes one day after coming in at No. 24 in the College Football America’s 2022 Division II Preseason Top-30 Poll. The Ouachita Baptist University football team enters the 2022 campaign picked to finish second.
Harding was picked to defend its GAC crown by the league’s coaches, accumulating 115 total votes and six first-place votes, followed by Ouachita Baptist, who picked up 114 total votes and five first-place nods. Southeastern earned the final first-place vote, coming in at third with 104 total votes before Henderson St. compiled 87 votes for fourth.
For Henderson, this is the second time in three years the Reddies have been picked to finish fourth in the GAC Preseason Poll. Each of the last two seasons, the Reddies have outperformed their preseason position, finishing third in 2019 when they were picked to finish fourth before seeing a tie for second place last year when they were tabbed to finish third.
The Tigers received five of the 12 first-place votes and finished just one point behind defending conference champion Harding. Following Ouachita is Southeastern Oklahoma State, which was the only other team to earn a first-place vote. Ouachita finished the 2021 season tied for second in the GAC with a 9-2 record, marking the program’s 13th consecutive winning season.
Henderson will have the luxury of playing some of its biggest games of the year this season inside Carpenter-Haygood Stadium and GeoSurfaces Field as three of the four matchups against Top-5 GAC preseason teams will take place on the Reddies’ home turf.
HSU will get it all started under the lights Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. when Southwestern Oklahoma State comes to town as Henderson begins its trek for a third consecutive nine-win season.
The Tigers begin the quest for 14 on Thursday, September 1, with a road trip to face off against Oklahoma Baptist starting at 6 p.m.
The 95th edition of the Battle of the Ravine, with the Reddies hosting the Tigers at Carpenter-Haygood, is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m.
2022 GAC PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Harding (115 points, 6 first-place votes)
2. Ouachita (114 points, 5 first-place votes)
3. Southeastern Oklahoma State (104 points, 1 first-place vote)
4. Henderson State (87 points)
5. Oklahoma Baptist (77 points)
6. East Central (73 points)
7. Arkansas-Monticello (57 points)
8. Southern Arkansas (49 points)
9. Arkansas Tech (42 points)
10. Northwestern Oklahoma State (31 points)
11. Southwestern Oklahoma State (28 points)
12. Southern Nazarene (15 points)