LSC End of Season Recap

January 5th, 2024 4:00pm

LSC End of Season Recap

LSC End of Season Recap

...Always look on the bright side of life...

The Division 2 football season is now over with Harding’s win in the National Championship.  While the Bisons’ stampede over Colorado Mines was quite the reminder that “old-style” triple-option football can still win when done right, this isn’t the GAC column (however, Luke has every right to celebrate!), so that’s all I’m going to say about that. 

The LSC’s season ended in the Super Region 4 Final, with Central Washington’s surprise playoff run ending at the hands of Colorado Mines.  With that, it’s now time to recap some of the most important moments in the 2023 season and give a little look-ahead to the 2024 season.  Hopefully, I didn’t leave anything out!


LSC Final 2023 Standings


LSC Preseason Poll Place

2023 LSC Record

2023 Overall Record

Texas-Permian Basin




Central Washington




Angelo State




Texas A&M-Kingsville




Midwestern State




Eastern New Mexico




West Texas A&M




Western Oregon




Western New Mexico




* Includes postseason games


LSC All-Conference Awards:

Offensive Player of the Year (J.W. Rollins Award): Kenny Hrncir, Texas-Permian Basin
Offensive Back of the Year: Tyler Flanagan, Central Washington
Receiver of the Year: Jeremiah Cooley, UT Permian Basin
Offensive Lineman of the Year: Noah Plsek, Angelo State
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Andre Jones, Eastern New Mexico
Defensive Player of the Year (J.V. Sikes Award): Tanner Volk, Central Washington
Defensive Lineman of the Year: Dominique Varela, Texas-Permian Basin
Linebacker of the Year: Hayden Kelly, Texas-Permian Basin
Defensive Back of the Year: Amos Coleman, Texas A&M-Kingsville
Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year: Eti-Ini Bassey, Texas A&M-Kingsville; Cole Lalama, Western New Mexico
Newcomer of the Year: Jimmy Harrison, West Texas A&M
Coach of the Year: Kris McCullough, UT Permian Basin


Team Summaries

  1. Texas-Permian Basin – The most active team in the country in the offseason, new coach Kris McCullough brought in a huge transfer haul, including his quarterback from East Central, Kenny Hrncir.  Hrncir was the engine that drove one of the nation’s top offenses, averaging 46 points a game and running the table in LSC play.  The Falcons’ season crashed to a halt at the hands of the Bemidji State defense in the first round of the playoffs, but even with that disappointment, it is far and away UTPB’s best-ever season and the expectations for 2024 will be quite high.   
  2. Central Washington – The Wildcats started out with about the weirdest 0-2 start you could imagine – well, the loss to Division 1 Weber State wasn’t that weird, but the loss the following week to NAIA Montana Tech certainly was weird.  Then all CWU did was win all their conference games until the final week’s loss to UTPB, and then they go and win at Western Colorado and Bemidji State in the playoffs to reach the Super Region 4 Final.  Tanner Volk won many of the major awards as the nation’s top defender, leading the nation in tackles and interceptions.  Tyler Flanagan established himself among the best running backs in the LSC, and Kennedy McGill gave the CWU offense a boost it sorely needed. 
  3. Angelo State – Angelo State lost three games by a grand total of 18 points in 2023.  Unfortunately, those three games were the games they needed to win the most – against Colorado Mines, CWU, and UTPB.  Winning one of those games might have been enough to get the Rams into the playoffs.  ASU got a solid season from its defense and (mostly) transfer quarterback Gerald Gardner, but the Rams gave up their three-highest point totals of the season in those three losses.  
  4. Texas A&M-Kingsville – For the second straight season, TAMUK won 7 games, which was the first stretch of two consecutive seasons with that many wins since they won 26 games between the 2008 and 2010 seasons.  Injuries at the quarterback position were a major factor in the Javelinas’ season, as original starter Jacob Cavazos was ultimately sidelined with multiple concussions.  The Javelinas lost close games to all the LSC teams who finished in front of them in conference play – UTPB, CWU, and Angelo State.  Like ASU, maybe winning one of those games could have sneaked them into playoff consideration. 
  5. Midwestern State – In what ultimately turned out to be long-time head coach Bill Maskill’s final season at MSU, the Mustangs struggled for offensive consistency outside of running backs Devin Cross and Jalen March.  With barely any passing game, MSU often had a difficult time scoring against the better teams in the LSC.  Finding a quarterback who can confidently run the MSU offense will be near the top of new head coach Rich Renner’s to-do list for the 2024 season.    
  6. Eastern New Mexico – Kelley Lee’s first season back in Portales started out fast with a 3-0 record, then stumbled to five straight losses, and then nearly ended with the first winning record since the 2019 season.  But then the Greyhounds fell victim to a Western New Mexico two-point play with barely a minute left to lose the Green Chile Bowl and a chance of being the best Division 2 team in New Mexico (all three teams finished with 1-1 records).  That loss soured what was mostly a positive return for Lee (including ENMU’s second straight Wagon Wheel Game win) despite the long losing streak in the middle of the season.
  7. West Texas A&M – After Week 3, WTAMU sat at 2-1 after a strong win over Midwestern State.  Then three straight weeks of gut-punch losses that the Buffaloes never recovered from.  First, a 41-40 overtime loss to UTPB where a two-point conversion fell short, then another last-second loss to Western Oregon, and then a final close loss to TAMUK.  While not the season Buffs fans were hoping for in Josh Lynn’s first season, there were signs of hope, particularly in freshman quarterback Kanon Gibson and a solid group of linebackers. 
  8. Western Oregon – Like Midwestern State and CWU, Western Oregon had their struggles at the quarterback position.  One week, Gannon Winker would have the offense going well, and then the next week, he would either struggle to break 100 passing yards or throw interceptions in bunches (of note were the 7 he threw the last two weeks of the season).  The Wolves’ high point was once again a last-minute shootout win over WTAMU, their third straight win over the Buffaloes. 
  9. Western New Mexico – Billy Hickman took over a much different team than the one Philip Vigil left when he took over as CSU-Pueblo’s head coach.  Despite still having Devin Larsen on the roster, the Mustangs’ high-octane passing game didn’t move the ball very well, and the running game, which was never a main focus of the offense anyway, was almost nonexistent (along with the defense).  WNMU struggled to be competitive in LSC play, but did manage to win their final game of 2023 on a two-point conversion to win the Green Chile Bowl for the second straight season. 


Top LSC Games of 2023 (in no particular order)

  1. CWU 27-24 over Angelo State
  2. UTPB 41-40 over WTAMU
  3. WNMU over ENMU 25-24 in the Green Chile Bowl
  4. WOU over WTAMU 37-36
  5. CWU over Western Colorado 16-13 in the first round of the Super Region 4 playoffs


Looking at the 2024 Season

As I have no crystal ball and my off-brand Magic 8-Ball has told me “What a terrible question” when I asked about the LSC next year, let’s take a look at some questions going into 2024:

  1. Will UTPB reload and remain at the top of the LSC?
  2. Can Angelo State regain their edge in the LSC?
  3. Is Central Washington here to stay as LSC contenders?
  4. Who will win (and lose) in the transfer portal?
  5. Can Rich Renner get MSU back into contention?
  6. Is there a possible surprise team from the middle or bottom of the LSC like UTPB?
  7. Can the LSC remain a multiple-bid conference in the playoffs?


Last Words Until Next Season

Last, but not least, a welcome to the LSC’s newest member, Sul Ross State.  SRSU were LSC members from the 1950 to 1975 seasons and are now re-joining the conference after having been in the Division 3 American Southwest Conference since the 1996 season.  The Lobos have had 10 seasons at 0.500 or above since the 1983 season, when they went 7-3, but have had only two 6-win seasons in that timeframe (all the other 8 seasons were 5-win seasons).  The Lobos played EMNU and WNMU last season, losing both games, but were somewhat competitive for a portion of each game.  Welcome to the LSC and to Division 2! 


And…that’s a wrap!