BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor already has a playoff berth and at least a share of the American Southwest Conference crown locked up. There is no rest for a national title contender, though, so the defending champion Crusaders aren’t letting up heading into their regular-season finale.

PINEVILLE, La. — One week after an emotional, heart-stopping victory and a long way from home, Mary Hardin-Baylor avoided all the pitfalls that can accompany that scenario, flattening Louisiana College on Saturday and keeping the throttle down heading into next week’s battle for the outright conference title.

BELTON — As part of a military family, Gary Ruckman has lived in several places — Texas is his sixth state of residence — and has strived to be a difference-maker wherever he happens to call home.

BELTON — For as scratchy as Mary Hardin-Baylor’s performance was for most of its 15-14 victory against rival Hardin-Simmons over the weekend, there’s one major takeaway that Crusaders coach Pete Fredenburg wants his players to realize.

BELTON — When it comes to the league standings, each game counts just as much as the next. The truth, however, is that some matchups mean more than others.

That’s why there’s a little more energy this week at Mary Hardin-Baylor heading into Saturday afternoon’s kickoff of the American Southwest Conference’s biggest rivalry — No. 14 Hardin-Simmons (5-1, 4-1) at No. 1 UMHB (6-0, 5-0).