BELTON — This week Mary Hardin-Baylor returns to the site of its last regular-season loss.
Of course, that defeat came during the first year of President Barack Obama’s first term in the White House, and only one UMHB player from that game — fifth-year senior defensive end Korey Steward, who received a medical redshirt as a sophomore — still plays for the Crusaders.
Nevertheless, UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg is in no mood for history to repeat itself, no matter how dated that history might be.
“We’re really in a good place right now,” Fredenburg said Monday. “We’re playing well and the guys are really coming to work every day. Man, you sure don’t want to lose that momentum and motivation by not preparing well for this one.”
The Crusaders (9-0, 5-0 American Southwest Conference) will carry a national ranking of No. 2 into their regular-season finale Saturday at Mississippi College (4-5, 4-1).
That’s one spot higher than they were ranked on Oct. 17, 2009. That’s the day a UMHB offense that entered the game averaging 43 points scored only 14 against a Choctaws defense that ranked 230th in the country out of 235 teams.
The result was a shocking 17-14 MC win that still stands as the Crusaders’ last defeat during the regular season.
Speaking of bad losses
The NCAA Division III playoff bracket will be announced Sunday evening, and the postseason field could be shaping up a little differently than it looked prior to last Saturday.
Former ASC member Texas Lutheran was undefeated and ranked third in the South region, and then was blasted 73-44 by a sub-.500 Hardin-Simmons squad.
If anyone knows how that type of defeat can alter a team’s postseason chances, it’s Fredenburg, whose 2003 squad lost only once but failed to get a playoff bid.
“I know in 2003 when we got beat by East Texas Baptist and didn’t make it, I talked to everybody I could talk to,” Fredenburg explained.
“They all said, ‘It was a bad loss. You can’t get beat by somebody that doesn’t have a winning record and expect to be in the playoffs.’
“And that’s a bad loss for TLU. I suspect that might knock them out.”
Teams are allowed to suit up no more than 58 players for D-III playoff games, and the UMHB coaching staff has already started thinking about how it will get its squad down to that number.
“We started condensing and talking about what we’re going to do,” Fredenburg said. “There are things that we have to decide — third quarterback, Wildcat, receiver, running back. Where are the numbers going to come from? There are some question marks.”