BELTON — Thrown into the fire as a freshman in 2019, cornerback Titus Dunk spent all 13 games that season listening to his Mary Hardin-Baylor teammates ask him why it was taking so long for him to get his first interception.

BELTON — Following a week spent grooming younger players, resting older ones and fine-tuning a few things, No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor resumes American Southwest Conference play Saturday afternoon at home against Texas Lutheran.

Whether last week’s open date halted the momentum of the Crusaders (5-0, 4-0) remains to be seen, but head coach Pete Fredenburg doesn’t believe any extra motivational tactics will be needed to have his guys ready to face the Bulldogs (1-4, 1-3).

SHERMAN — There was no letdown Saturday afternoon for No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor, which scored early — 66 seconds in to be exact — and often in a 56-0 romp over Austin College at Apple Stadium.

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BELTON — Mary Hardin-Baylor senior safety Jayden Smith is sometimes overshadowed because he shares the defensive backfield with fellow senior safety and All-American Jefferson Fritz.

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BELTON — As for which is greater — the joy derived from beating a quality opponent with just one good half of football or the disappointment that comes with not rising to the occasion from the onset — it’s tough to gauge.

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BELTON — The first 26 installments of the American Southwest Conference’s biggest rivalry featured almost everything — upsets, routs and last-second victories. Perhaps none of them topped the 27th meeting between Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons on Saturday, when the Crusaders staged a …

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BELTON — Following a productive high school career at Van, a redshirt season at SMU and two years in the junior college ranks at Trinity Valley, Aphonso Thomas thought he was done with football. Content with what he’d accomplished on the field, he went home to East Texas with a plan to becom…

BELTON — With a 2-0 record that includes a conference-opening win, No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor had a productive first two weeks of the season that many programs would be celebrating.

Just about the only things the Crusaders celebrate are national championships, though, and they believe their performance in last Saturday’s 34-14 win over East Texas Baptist won’t be good enough come mid-December.

BELTON — One week after a season opener in which it was never challenged, No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor passed its first test Saturday night with flying colors – which was appropriate given all the American flags in and around Crusader Stadium in remembrance of 9/11.

BELTON — Fresh off a convincing victory in which it dominated in every facet of an 84-6 thrashing of Simpson, No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor quickly turns its focus toward the American Southwest Conference opener and an East Texas Baptist team that will be far more athletic than last week’s overmatched opponent.

BELTON — There is surely more work to be done to reach the Stagg Bowl for the fifth time. But if the season opener — Mary Hardin-Baylor’s first game with playoff implications in two years — was any indication Saturday night, the Crusaders’ climb from base camp to the mountaintop isn’t all th…

BELTON — There’s always a heightened sense of anticipation surrounding season-opening games. After months without competition, teams and their fans finally get the experience they all crave.

For Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenburg, the importance of the opener can be boiled down to a single simple concept.

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BELTON — Following a year in which the 2020 fall season was scrapped because of the pandemic, Mary Hardin-Baylor is finally back to doing what it loves — building a team to compete for the national championship.

Sure, last spring’s abbreviated five-game season provided the program with some sort of reward in the form of a conference title, but the Crusaders have been perennial components of the bigger picture, of which the initial brush strokes were added Thursday.