For those counting down, the kickoff of the 2012 Bearkat football season is one month away.

Ninety players report for the beginning of preseason camp Thursday and Sam Houston State will kickoff the season Saturday, Sept. 8, when the Kats play host to the University of Incarnate Word from San Antonio at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.

Expectations will be at an all-time high this fall.

From a solid 6-5 season in head coach Willie Fritz's first year in 2010, the Kats took it up several notches last fall and went on a blistering undefeated run through the Southland Conference and the regular season.

Even though the temperatures started to get cooler, Sam Houston didn't and sandwiched a blowout victory over Montana State in the quarterfinals between two thrilling wins against Stony Brook in the second round and Montana in the national semifinals.

Playing in their first national championship game, the Kats ran into a buzz saw that was North Dakota State's defense, which proved to be the only one that could match Sam Houston's.

With nearly every starter back from that squad, as well as reserves who saw starter-like minutes and also made big plays, Sam Houston is expected to be a force to contend with and have another say as to how the FCS championship picture will shake out.

"Our motto was to go 1-0 each week. Our guys did a fabulous job of putting the last game in the rear-view mirror and focusing on the task at hand," Fritz said at the Southland Conference Football Media Day  two weeks ago.

"We've just got to do that this year. We've got a very challenging schedule and we're going to have to be better and there's no reason we shouldn't be better."

The Kats will have their first practice on Friday night. Sam Houston will practice in helmets the first two days before putting on shoulder pads.

The Bearkats, who likely starter the season as one of the top two teams in the Football Championship Subdivision when The Sports Network's FCS Preseason Poll is revealed later this month, will hold a series of practices and walkthroughs throughout camp.

Having a bye during the first week of season provides the Kats ample time to prepare for their season-opening game against Incarnate Word on Sept. 8.

Season tickets for Sam Houston State football are available now online at Packages include seats for all three games at Bowers Stadium and the "Battle of the Piney Woods" at Reliant Stadium in Houston plus first option to purchase tickets for road games at Baylor and Texas A&M.

For more information, contact the Sam Houston State athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.