Members of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders dance team will visit Elliott T. Bowers Stadium for the second year in a row to help the Sam Houston Bearkats open their football season.

The Texans Cheerleaders will appear at the pregame tailgate party just north of the stadium, signing autographs for fans prior to Sam Houston's 6 p.m. football game with Western Illinois Thursday Sept. 1.

The WIU Leathernecks earned an NCAA Division I national playoff berth last year and will give the Bearkats a stern test in the first game of one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory.

WIU defeated Sam Houston 57-14 in Macomb last year, but this year's Bearkat squad is not the same team the Leathernecks faced. With a young squad that grew better each outing, the Bearkats won six of their last nine games last season and are picked to be one of the front runners in the Southland Conference race this year.

Besides the appearance by the Houston Texans Cheerleaders at the pregame tailgate party, there are lots of other exciting activities planned for the season opener.

"Preseason workouts are going well and the team can't wait for the big opening game Sept. 1," Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz said. "Western Illinois is going to be a big test for us and we expect it to be a great game. We hope all our fans will be there to cheer the team on. With the Houston Texan Cheerleaders' appearance and lots of other excitement, it's going to be a game to remember."

Single game tickets for all six Sam Houston home football games at Bowers Stadium and the "Battle of the Piney Woods" with Stephen F. Austin presented by YP.Com at Reliant Stadium in Houston October 1 go on sale Monday.

Fans can beat the lines at the ticket office by ordering online at . Outstanding season ticket plans are available for all seven games as well.

The Sam Houston State Athletic Ticket Office is located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.