Sam Houston’s 2013 spring football practice comes to a close Thursday with the annual Orange-White scrimmage held this year at Joseph Pritchett Field.

The two-time Southland Conference champion and NCAA national finalists have been working the past month to prepare for a run at a third consecutive league title next fall.

“Overall, it’s been a good spring for us,” Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said “We’ve had some bumps and bruises that have sidelined some of the veteran players but we’ve had a good opportunity to see what some of the young guys can do. A bunch of the freshman are going to play for us next year and we’ve had a good opportunity to get them ready.”

The Bearkats return 41 lettermen including 12 starters from last year’s 11-4 team. Two areas of major emphasis in the spring have been the offensive line and the defensive secondary. Sam Houston returns only one start in each of the two areas.

Returning first and second team All-Southland performers include quarterback Brian Bell, running back Timothy Flanders, wide receiver/wildkat back Richard Sincere, defensive tackle Gary Lorance and cornerback Bookie Sneed. Honorable mention All-Southland honorees returning include running back Keshawn Hill, defensive end Jarrett Brown and offensive guard Donald Jackson III.

The head coach looks forward to football returning to Pritchett Field if only one spring scrimmage.

Since 1986, the annual Orange-White clash has been held at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium. This year the game will be held at Joseph Pritchett Field, the original home of Bearkat football.

Sam Houston and Rice played each university’s first football game at Pritchett on October 6, 1912.

“Everyone connected with Bearkat football is excited about playing back at Pritchett Field,” Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said. “Pritchett is where our traditions started and has been the scene of some great games. The setting will provide an amazing atmosphere for our annual spring game.”

Sam Houston has won back-to-back Southland Conference championships, roaring through the playoffs both years to reach the NCAA Division I Football National Championship game in Frisco.

The 25-5 record during the 2011 and 2012 seasons represents the highest two-year victory total in the Bearkats’ 97 seasons of football. Sam Houston has been nationally ranked in NCAA Division I FCS football for 24 consecutive weeks, finishing No. 2 in the nation each of the last two seasons.

Thursday’s scrimmage will match the offense and the defense in a variety of game-type situations.

“We’re anxious to see what some of the young guys can do in a game environment like this,” Fritz said.

Prior to the start of the 7 p.m. scrimmage, the Huntsville presentation of the Liberty Mutual “Coach of the Year” award to Sam Houston’s Willie Fritz and a $20,000 scholarship award to the university will take place.

Liberty Mutual Insurance will present  Fritz with his trophy and four charities selected by Fritz and the Sam Houston Alumni Association with a combined $70,000 to support their programs in honor of the coach’s 2012 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. 

The Huntsville Police Department and SHSU University Police advice that there will be parking available in the area surrounding Joseph Pritchett Field for the annual Orange-White spring football scrimmage.

The police departments ask that patrons please respect area businesses parking areas, avoid blocking residence driveways, fire hydrants and parking in handicapped parking spaces without proper authorization. 

The streets around Pritchett will be a “ticket free zone” from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday night excluding the above exceptions.