BURLESON -- The Kid can throw.
Honest, this is going to be some serious fun -- and even more serious winning.
That's what lies ahead for Corsicana's Tigers, a team that will no doubt take flight this season and possibly fly so high no one will even remember they lost 34-21 to 13th-ranked Burleson Centennial in their season opener Friday night at Burleson Stadium.
Nope, the Tigers and legendary coach Hal Wasson couldn't pull off the biggest upset in Texas in the opener (let's face it, the young Tigers were huge underdogs and they were on the road), but what they did will take your breath away if and when they do it at Tiger Stadium.
That's how alive and exciting Wasson's offense is, and that's how electric young Solomon James can be.
The sophomore who didn't even play catch with the Tigers until he showed up in June torched Centennial for 396 yards in the air in his first varsity game, completing 18-of-29 passes. He threw for 249 yards in the second half alone.
He's a sophomore — just a baby-face sophomore — and that's what makes what he did Friday night even that much more fun. The Kid faced a ferocious pass rush (he was sacked five times) all night, but he never stopped getting up off the floor and coming at the state-ranked Spartans — and they never really did stop him.
They just outscored him and the Tigers with their spread-option offense that beat Corsicana twice last year with an ugly sandwich, knocking off the Tigers on opening night to begin the season and ending their season with a win in the second round of the Class 5A DII playoffs at Burleson Stadium.
That Tigers team, unlike the seasoned Spartans, graduated 92 percent of its offense, leaving the biggest hole in Texas to be filled. Thank goodness, James brought a mighty big shovel with him to the Tigers' backfield.
Don't be surprised if these two teams meet in the playoffs again.
Only next time the Burleson kids will be the same seasoned, experienced group (the Spartans returned all three running backs and the bulk of their offensive line from what the folks in Burleson believe was the best team in the school's eight-year history). That's the team that showed up Friday, and the Tigers, who could have used some name tags last spring, won't even resemble the players who lost in the opener Friday when they show up in the postseason.
That's a promise, and not just because this looked and felt like a brand new Tigers team, but because Wasson is just getting started.
He has won everything and he's won everywhere he has been, and he's made his mind up to change the culture at Corsicana and bring back the kind of winning tradition people want for this school and this community.
Wasson knows it's going to take time, but on a night when the Tigers made enough mistakes to lose, they sure looked good throwing and catching the ball.
At one point in the third quarter when the game was close, young James completed seven passes in a row, including a beauty to Lane Fuentes, whose 19-yard TD knotted the score at 13-13 in a game the Tigers trailed 13-0. Talk about changing the culture -- that comeback put the Centennial folks in culture shock.
They were ready for a romp after the Spartans scored the first two times they touched the ball, but Shemar Smith came up with a game-changing (at least for a while) play, sailing high in the secondary and slapping down a fourth-down pass near the end of the first quarter that put a jolt in the Tigers.
From that point into the halftime show, Corsicana whipped the Spartans up and down the field.
The Spartans didn't get a first down in the second quarter, punting twice, and — after recovering a fumble at the 49 — they were held on downs on a fourth-and-two play when Erick Dickson stopped quarterback Hank Meyer cold, inches short of the first down.
In the meantime, James hit Drew Denbow with a 15-yard pass and Denbow turned it into a 44-yard catch and run TD to close the gap to 13-7.
That's where they were at halftime, and then James rolled his seven-in-a-row and zipped a TD pass to Fuentes, who zipped past Centennial all night. His 19-yarder with 7:53 left in the third tied it at 13-13.
Fuentes finished the night with eight receptions for 167 yards and Qua Chambers walked out of Burleson with 113 yards on five catches, including a gorgeous 35-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter.
Denbow had two receptions for 68 yards, including a one-handed grab in the second quarter. (He has done that before.)
James completed nine passes of 20-yards or more, including a 54-yard catch and run by Fuentes, who also scored after Chambers' TD on a two-point shuttle pass. The threesome combined for 15 receptions for 348 yards.
And all three of them found the end zone.
But you can't beat the No. 13 team in the state or the 313th in the state when you have six turnovers, and the Tigers had three of each, losing three fumbles and three interceptions.
There were plenty of problems, but this was still a pretty impressive opening night, kind of like an awesome Broadway show that needed better lighting and costumes — but the music and songs were great, especially that Song of Solomon.