DURANT, Okla. — Southeastern football will open the 2017 season picked to finish fifth in the Great American Conference according to the league’s preseason poll released on Tuesday.

The Savage Storm finished the 2016 season with a 7-4 record, winning three of its final four contests which included a rivalry win over East Central.

Southeastern earned 82 points in the preseason poll and finished two points ahead of Arkansas Tech who was picked sixth, while trailing Ouachita Baptist by eight points.

Southern Arkansas was narrowly picked as the preseason favorite with 110 points and five first-place votes, just finishing ahead of Harding’s 107 points and five first-place votes.

Henderson State was third with 106 points and two first-place votes.

Southwestern Oklahoma State was picked seventh with 60 points, followed by Arkansas-Monticello with 44 and Northwestern Oklahoma State with 40 points.

East Central was tabbed 10th with 38 points, with Oklahoma Baptist at 24 points and Southern Nazarene with 11 rounding out the poll.

The Storm head into 2017 with key offensive returners at quarterback in C.B. Cantwell and on the offensive line, while looking to replace two of the league’s best running backs from a year ago in Devlon Wortham and Ronnie Green.

Defensively Southeastern returns starters at all three positions, led by DaMarius Lavender on the defensive line and Justin Young in the linebacking corps, both of whom were all-conference a season ago.

Joel Carlos also returns to anchor the Storm kicking game after earning first team All-GAC recognition in 2016.

Southeastern opens the 2017 season on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. in Bethany, Okla., against Southern Nazarene and then returns home for the home opener on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. against Oklahoma Baptist at Paul Laird Field.