Can Hico win a state title in 2014?
Loaded question, I know. But I believe they can.
Notice I didn't say they will. We have plenty of time before August of next year - let alone December - to make such bold predictions.
But I do think the Tigers will enter the season as one of the favorites in what will then be 2A Division I.
Hico set its school wins record (13), broke its single-game scoring mark (77 points) and reached the semifinals for the first time after capturing its first-ever regional championship. All that came after its best regular season in 41 years.
In the end, Hico was eight yards shorts of a chance to line up for a two-point conversion and a tie with Stamford. Who knows what could have happened in overtime, but the Tigers were that close to reaching the state championship.
The Tigers accomplished those feats with only six seniors on their roster. Yes, six.
And in case anybody is wondering, yes, James Washington from Stamford is a senior. Have fun at Oklahoma State, young man. Just do it out of Hico's way.
The Tigers will need to throw the ball a little more. I'm convinced Shiner has too much for Stamford if Shiner can throw the ball even a little bit. But quarterback Hunter Wood is capable, and his father, head coach Keith Wood, will find a way.
Hico is in a weird position geographically, teetering right along the Region I and Region II lines. I don't know which region the UIL powers will place the Tigers in, but I don't know that I care. I don't think there will be a Class 1A - um 2A, sorry - team in Texas outside Shiner and Mart that will want to see the Tigers next season.
Johnny Serratt, Blake Hyles and Lane Turner give them three all-state players to build around, and with the number of ball carriers Hico has seemingly every year, I find it especially encouraging that two of those - Serratt and Turner - will be leading the way up front.
Blake Hyles was district MVP as a linebacker and running back. His brother Duane Hyles is another force, and part of a big junior class that will lead next year's club as seniors. Hunter Wood and Dakota Mullins are some other juniors you probably remember reading about from time to time this season, and yes, Dallas Anderson really is just a freshman.
Seniors Tyler Turner, Bob McAdams, Cade Hitzfeld, Ryder Needham, Lane Smith and Toby Turney should be proud of all that was accomplished by this Tiger outfit, and even more proud for the way they set the stage for the group to follow.
The season of 2013 was a special one for Hico, arguably the best in school history.
The season of 2014 might just be even bigger. The only way that could be true is if it's the Tigers we're all watching at Jerry World next December.