A month of hard work during spring training for the defending Southland Conference football champions comes to an end Wednesday April 18 with the annual Orange-White Spring Game.

With 50 lettermen including 19 starters returning from last fall's team that won the league title with a perfect 7-0 record and went 14-0 through the regular season and three NCAA Division I playoff games to reach the National Championship Final, head coach Willie Fritz and his staff believe the team has had an excellent spring.

"We've gotten a lot accomplished and, just like in the fall, these young men have shown a great work ethic," Fritz said. "With three new assistant offensive coaches, a major emphasis this spring has been allowing the players and coaches to get to know one another. Even after a 14-1 season, there are areas where we need to improve and we've been stressing those aspects of the game."

For the second year in a row, the Orange-White spring game will be played midweek.

Festivities will start at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday with a tailgate party at Bearkat Alley north of the scoreboard. SHSU student activities will be handing out free food.

The "Bearkat Football Experience" begins at 6 p.m. as Huntsville area youth, Sam Houston students and Bearkat adult fans can participate in drills with the football team on the field at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.

The Villas on Sycamore will hand out free "goodie bags" to the first 200 Sam Houston students who enter Bowers Stadium for the game.

The Orange-White scrimmage will begin at 7 p.m. During the scrimmage, members of Sam Houston fraternities and sororities will participate in special "Greek Games" during breaks in the game.

Format for the football scrimmage and team rosters will be announced early next week.

"Last year's Orange-White game attracted one of the largest crowds ever for a Bearkat football spring game," Fritz said. "The spirit and spark the fans at last year's Orange-White game started last year's team on a roll that carried us through the regular season and into the playoffs. Our players feed of our fans and we're looking forward to another great crowd."

There is no admission charge for the Orange-White Spring game.