Last week was not a fun one for Hico's high school football team.

There was no game to prepare for. No scouting report to study. Nothing to take the Tigers' minds off their 48-7 loss to county-rival Hamilton the week before.

Most importantly, there was no game on Friday to offer the Tigers the chance to replace the empty feeling of defeat with the triumph of a big win.

But the odd late-season bye with only two weeks remaining did present one big positive for the Tigers. It made them especially ready to get back on the field this week.

"At the time, after losing to Hamilton, the start of last week was not fun," Hico head coach Keith Wood admitted. "But this week has been good because everybody's excited after a week off to get back out there and play. We've had good practices (Monday and Tuesday)."

The Tigers need to carry that into Friday's 7:30 p.m. regular-season finale against Millsap at Tiger Stadium.

There are a number of mathematical equations that can result in Hico landing a playoff spot even with a loss Friday, but Wood doesn't want to discuss those possibilities. All he's concerned with is earning a playoff berth with a win.

"All I've said to the kids about it is if we win we're in," Wood said.

Crawford has already claimed outright possession of the District 4-2A Division II championship by winning its first five league contests.

But behind the unbeaten Pirates, it's anybody's guess as to how the playoff race will shake out.

Hamilton, Hico and Cisco are all 3-2 in league play. Hamilton has head-to-head wins over both Hico and Cisco, and the Tigers also defeated the Lobos.

Millsap is 2-3 entering its finale at Hico, Hamilton visits Rio Vista (1-4) and Crawford battles Cisco, leaving open the possibility that Cisco, Hamilton, Hico and Millsap all finish the seven-team league with 3-3 marks.

"If we all go 3-3 it comes down to points and we have the advantage right now because we beat Cisco by 20," Wood said.

He hopes the Tigers won't have to stress all the math, but knows defeating Millsap is no small task.

"Size is their biggest strength," Wood said. "They look like a college team with a bunch of linemen that are 270 or 280. They two-platoon them and keep them fresh and they know how to use them. They line up in the stack-I (also known as the triple-I) and come right at you."

Wood says Millsap's offense may be predictable, but it's still tough to stop.

"Their favorite play is the "iso" and everyone knows it's coming but you still have to stop it," he said. "They run a little counter-trey and I've seen them pass the ball a little, but not much. They are definitely built for the run."

Wood expects a playoff atmosphere to engulf Tiger Stadium Friday.

"They're coming in here playing for a chance to go to the playoffs, too" he said. "It's going to be an exciting night of football. The last couple years we were eliminated the week before our last game, so it's exciting just to have all the playoff implications and everything that comes with it."

Exciting indeed. As long as the Tigers don't stumble and let the math get in the way.