The defending Lone Star Conference Champion Midwestern State Mustangs are the heavy favorite to repeat their title as the conference released the annual preseason poll at the LSC Football Media Day.
The Mustangs, who posted their first perfect regular season in 2011, finished 10-1 overall, collected 19 of the 25 first place votes among the LSC's coaches, sports information directors and media members polled and a total of 215 points.
Abilene Christian, 8-3 last season, was selected second with five first place votes and 187 points. West Texas A&M got the third place spot with 179 points and Texas A&M-Kingsville fourth with one first place ballot and 158 points.
Tarleton State was chosen fifth in the poll, followed by Angelo State, Incarnate Word, Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M-Commerce.
Midwestern was the league's co-champion in 2009 and won the title outright last year.
"It's an honor and privilege to be ranked number one," said MSU Coach Bill Maskill. "But like what I've told our team over and over, what we did last year has zero bearing on this year's team."
The Mustangs return nine starters and 36 lettermen from the squad that finished the season ranked seventh in the AFCA Division II final poll. But the Mustangs, who are ranked in the top five in preseason polls, return Harlon Hill Award finalist Brandon Kelsey at quarterback along with All-Lone Star Conference running backs Keidrick Jackson and Jimmy Pipkin who helped lead the Mustangs to a school record of 5,851 yards of total offense that led Division II.
MSU also returns three starting offensive linemen, including returning All-American Ken Van Heule and Justen Tyler.
Defensively, the Mustangs have senior linebacker Matt Ellerbrock and senior safety Pat Gardner who lead the way to go with all-conference performers in junior cornerback Neiko Conway and sophomore linebacker Neiko Conway.
Despite having the top offense in Division II last season and the returning LSC Offensive Player of the Year from 2011, the preseason top individual offensive honor went to Abilene Christian senior quarterback Mitchell Gale. Gale was the conference's offensive back of the year in 2011. Gale edged Kelsey 11-9 in the balloting for preseason honors.
The preseason defensive player of the year honor went to Texas A&M-Kingsville senior linebacker Jeremy Aguilar, who was the 2011 LSC Linebacker of the Year. Aguilar was the clear choice ahead of seven others.
Midwestern State has four games at Memorial Stadium and Joe Golding Field in 2012. MSU's first home affair is set for Sept. 29 against Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. Season tickets go on sale on Wednesday at Ligon Coliseum and online at msumustangs.com. MSU hosts UIW, Angelo State, Eastern New Mexico and a non-conference affair with West Georgia.
The Mustangs open the season on Sept. 8 in Stephenville at Tarleton State.
The Midwestern State cross country team was a unanimous choice to win their fifth straight Lone Star Conference Women's Championship in the annual poll released on Tuesday.
All 21 first place votes of the league's coaches, sports information directors and selected media members went to the Mustangs, who totaled 189 points. MSU has won the conference championship each year since 2008.
West Texas A&M was tabbed to finish second with 146 points, with Angelo State third at 134 and Abilene Christian fourth with 120.
Eastern New Mexico grabbed the fifth spot, with Tarleton State sixth, Incarnate Word seventh, Texas A&M-Kingsville eighth and Texas A&M-Commerce ninth.
The Mustangs won the South Central Region last year on their way to their best-ever 11th place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships.
MSU returns juniors Ashley Flores and Janel Campbell, who placed sixth and eighth respectively at the LSC Championships last season, along with sophomore twins Michelle and Kim Krezonoski who ranked as four of MSU's top five runners a season ago.
MSU opens the cross country season by hosting the Strohman Dental Stampede on Aug. 30 in Wichita Falls. The Mustangs also host the Sikes Senter Cross Country Carnival on Oct. 6.\
Midwestern State is the clear pick to claim its sixth Lone Star Conference title since the start of the 2004 season in a poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and selected media as released Tuesday afternoon.
Senior forward David Freeland garnered top preseason honors for the second consecutive season afternoon scoring seven goals and dishing out four assists to help the Mustangs to a 13-4-1 mark and a sixth straight NCAA Division II postseason appearance.
South Central Region champion Incarnate Word was picked to finish second as the Cardinals receive three votes followed by West Texas A&M while defending league champ Eastern New Mexico was picked fourth.
MSU returns just two starters in Freeland and sophomore defender Sam Bartek and just six total letter winners including junior forwards VcMor Eligwe and Chase Robertson and junior midfielders B.A. Catney and Brett Helm.
The Mustangs open the season against Texas A&M International on Aug. 31 at the MSU Soccer Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Incarnate Word sophomore James Nero garnered the league's top defensive honors.
Midwestern State seniors Hanna Staley and Mallory Whitworth earned top honors as the defending Lone Star Conference champion Mustangs were picked to finish second in the league's preseason poll of coaches, sports information directors and selected media as released Tuesday afternoon.
Staley, a two-time All American, was named the defensive player of the year while Whitworth was tabbed the league's top goalkeeper after helping MSU to nine shutouts last season.
The Mustangs return seven starters and 15 letter winners off of last season's 14-6-2 squad which finished second in the league before breaking up Abilene Christian's unbeaten season with a 2-1 win in the conference finals.
MSU returns its entire back line as senior Megan Barnhart, sophomore Callie Briseno and junior Anna Molen join Staley for a unit that limited the opposition to a 0.70 goals against average.
Senior Maddie Fraser is the lone returner in the midfield after scoring one goal and dishing out seven assists while sophomore Payton Fookes (2 goals, 2 assists) started 16 games at the forward position in 2011.
ACU received 15 of the 19 first-place vote to top the poll followed by MSU, Texas A&M-Commerce (1 first-place vote), Angelo State, Eastern New Mexico, West Texas A&M, Incarnate Word and Texas Woman's.
ACU junior Andrea Carpenter is the league's preseason offensive player of the year after leading the league with 16 goals last season.
Midwestern State opens the season with a pair of home matches against Fort Lewis (Colo.) and Colorado Mesa as part of the MSU Classic on Aug. 31 and Sep. 2 at the MSU Soccer Field.