For Hico, there is no question. It's the biggest game in school history.

But it's also just the next one, points out head coach Keith Wood, who has stuck by that mantra throughout the state playoffs.

But this time the Tigers have climbed the mountain far enough to earn the right to challenge the reigning state champs in Class A Division I. Hico battles Stamford at 3 p.m. Saturday at San Angelo Stadium in San Angelo.

It's the first trip to the state semifinals for the Tigers, who knocked off district-rival Goldthwaite 14-7 in last week's Region II championship and state quarterfinal. Stamford was delayed until Monday due to weather, and scored with 44 seconds left to beat New Deal 29-26.

Scoring the winning TD in Stamford's quarterfinal was James Washington, an Oklahoma State pledge foes have struggled for years to contain.

"It all starts with number 28 (Washington)," Wood said. "You pretty much have to bracket him somehow. Someone has to be assigned to him with somebody else over there to help. That takes two defenders away right there, so they try to spread you out and then let their quarterback run the ball."

Washington has amassed 1,229 yards and 25 touchdowns on 64 receptions. Quarterback Bo Wimberly has passed for 1,794 yards while rushing for 1,300. The Bulldogs average 7.4 yards per rush and 9.2 yards per pass attempt.

Washington is also the defensive leader for Stamford as a safety.

"If you're fortunate to break a big run, it doesn't really matter where you are that guy is probably going to catch you," Wood said. "Your best bet is to keep getting first downs and keep it away from them, and that will be part of our defensive strategy."

Good thing, then, that the Tigers happen to excel at running the ball.

The combination of Duane Hyles, Blake Hyles, Cade Hitzfeld and Tyler Turner has generated close to 500 yards per game on the ground, while quarterback Hunter Turner also contributes to the rushing attack and passes the ball just enough to hurt defenses if they overload the box.

"We need to execute offensively and keep moving the sticks," Wood said. "That's what New Deal did, and that's why they had a chance to win."

Wood said winning the regional title and inching closer to the school's first state final appearance has certainly amped up the already exciting atmosphere around HHS and the town.

"It's exciting for everyone," Wood said. "(Wednesday) we filled out all our credential requests and all that for Cowboys Stadium, and it just gave me chills. That's something I definitely don't mind taking time for."