It's hard to tell by talking with Johnny Serratt and John Hartgraves that they are about to play not only the biggest game of their lives, but also the biggest in the history of their school.

It's not that the Hico senior offensive and defensive linemen don't understand what a victory in Saturday's 1A Division I semifinal would mean, it's just that they are too steady to let it sway them.

At least that's what Hico head coach Keith Wood believes.

"This team is just all business, and they're so steady mentally and emotionally," Wood said. "It drove me nuts the first four weeks of the season because I could never tell if they were ready to play."

They were, winning those first four games convincingly to put their head coach's mind at ease.

"I finally realized it's a good thing, I guess," Wood said. "But even if they don't show it, things are definitely getting excited."

And for good reason. A victory over reigning state champ Stamford means a trip to the state final at Cowboys Stadium next week. Saturday's semifinal kicks off at 3 p.m. at San Angelo Stadium in San Angelo.

Serratt and Hartgraves are examples of Wood's point, answering questions simply and to the point when it came to discussing both Stamford and the opportunity to play for a state title.

"It's pretty exciting, but we're just staying focused on our jobs," said Serratt, who starts at strong guard and defensive tackle. "As long as we do our jobs, we can get it done and win again."

Both have an equally simple description of those so-called jobs.

"It's fun blocking for the guys we get to block for, and as long as we block who we're supposed to they'll keep making plays," Serratt said. "That's really what it's all about is getting the right guy and getting him blocked."

And pressuring the passer when Stamford has the ball.

"Sack the quarterback so he can't throw it to number 28 (Oklahoma St. pledge James Washington)," Hartgraves, a strong tackle and defensive tackle, of his plan on defense.

A simple resolve is a good one, Wood believes.

"Our whole team is that way, and that's how we try to do things," Wood said. "Everyone has a couple jobs to do, and if they do it well, we will be in position to win. We don't overcomplicate things."

That's allowed Hico to be consistent in each phase throughout the year. And for the most part, it's been dominant consistency. The Tigers have outscored its four playoff opponents 167-58, winning by an average margin of 27.2 points. They weren't really tested in the playoffs until last week's 14-7 quarterfinal victory against Goldthwaite. Hico actually trailed in the first half.

"We weren't doing our jobs well enough in the first half, then we did better in the second," Serratt said.

Wood says Hico can't afford to have a poor half in any phase against Stamford, and Hartgraves believes the the Tigers will avoid repeating last week's troubles in the opening 24 minutes.

"We just have to work even harder in practice and be more prepared and focused," Hartgraves said.

The excitement around the Hico community has reached a fever pitch, especially for one of its most famous residents. Cody Ohl led the tie-down roping at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas through four rounds after having the Hico school 'H' painted on the side of his horse Pearl, who is owned by Sid Miller. Ohl is even sporting the 'war hawk' haircut that has become popular around town, and had the Thomas & Mack Center public address announcer give a shoutout to the Tigers on opening night of the NFR.

That's just one example of the anticipation of the school's first-ever semifinal appearance.

"It's exciting around school, but I think the town is even more excited than the players," said Hartgraves.

That's because the townsfolk are caught up in the history that is being made right before their eyes, and in the sense of pride that comes with it.

Just how magical the finish to the historic season will be is not yet determined.

But whatever obstacles - Stamford included - jump in front of the Tigers, they have a simple plan of attack: stay steady, be focused and just do your job.

Because creativity doesn't stuff the trophy case. Simple execution, however, certainly does.

And two more wins would give Hico it's most meaningful trophy of all.