Hico and Hamilton duke it out tonight for the Hamilton County Championship.

The Tigers and Bulldogs have established one of the area’s most long-standing and intense rivalries. So intense, that Hico Head Football Coach Wade Williams listed defeating Hamilton as one of his three top priorities for the 2007 season while addressing his team on the first day of preseason drills.

Last fall, the Bulldogs got the best of Hico in a shootout, 47-26. Vengeance is on the mind of the Tigers.

Both schools made it to the state playoffs in 2006, and each was eliminated in the first round. Hamilton finished at 6-5, while Hico’s final tally was 4-7.

The Bulldogs return 10 starters from a year ago, and don’t have as much size across the board as they have featured in previous seasons. One mammoth lineman does return, however. Ryan Lee measures in at 6-6, 280.

Leading the way for Hamilton is running back Jorden Lowe. He will be expected to carry the load for the Bulldogs, but is new at the RB slot after converting from wide receiver. He will be the featured player in the wishbone offense.

Defensively, Hamilton coach Chris Wilde looks to Asa Hamilton for leadership. Hamilton returns after an all-district campaign in 2006.

The Bulldogs and Tigers have added a kink to the traditional rivalry this fall. Instead of the usual home and away situation, they will meet at a neutral field, as both schools converge on Tarleton’s Memorial Stadium in Stephenville. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.