Tigers, welcome home!

They won’t need any signs like that Friday night, when Corsicana’s Tigers host North Garland at 7 p.m. at Community National Bank & Trust Stadium, where a large crowd is anticipated to welcome the latest edition of Cana football.

The myth that the Tigers floated home along I-45 from Frisco last Friday night after defeating Frisco Liberty 38-28 in their season opener is false.

They really felt that fantastic after giving new coach Aric Sardinea his first win with the Tigers.

It was much more than a feel-good win for a club and a new coaching staff that started late and with more questions than answers last week.

They don’t have all the answers, but they do have a W — a huge, fat win over odds that should never be associated with high school athletics. The fresh new Tigers (even the returning players felt as though this is a brand new squad) had to travel roughly 100 miles to play a much larger school to begin their season again.

And if you thought Frisco Liberty was enormous, wait till you see North Garland, a rapidly rising high school with over 1,000 more students than Corsicana. This isn’t a huge Class 6A school facing the Tigers; this is a school on steroids. North Garland may have 1,500 additional youngsters to choose from by the time they begin off on Friday. That’s how quickly schools in the Dallas region are expanding.

It’s a non-district game, so it doesn’t really matter, but you’d want to see the Tigers, who have had such a horrible run of luck recently, get a break. They won’t get one in a couple of weeks, when district begins, with three of the eight teams listed in the state’s preseason Top 20.

But what if the Tigers surprise North Garland? Will the questioning stop and the detractors leave? Who can say? The only certainty at this moment is that these Tigers are better – maybe a lot better than most people expected.

No one is talking about a district title or a playoff run (yet), but this squad is entertaining to watch, and Sardinea is an excellent coach. He’s ecstatic with his children, and it shows. Most coaches are irritated by having two quarterbacks. Sardinea just accepts it and instructs the children to go out and perform.

They certainly did in the first episode. Adrian Baston, who also played tailback when sophomore Ja’Marion “Turtle” Lewis was at quarterback, rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns (one a 78-yard sprint to the 4-yard line to set up a field goal) and completed 5-of-6 throws for 67 yards.

And get this: he kicked a 54-yard kick punt.

Lewis had a good night as well. He completed 5-of-10 throws for 97 yards, including a show-stopping touchdown strike to Braylan Brandon, who snagged a screen pass, broke a tackle, and danced by Liberty for a 53-yard gain to the Liberty 16-yard line. For a team that loves to run, that’s 164 yards in the air. Brandon, another unexpected performance, ended with 79 yards on four receptions.

The Tigers still enjoy running — and running over people. Only look at Jett Jones, or should we say the NEW Jett Jones, who rushed for 102 yards and four touchdowns on just nine runs. Three of them tallied (one was called back). He also grabbed a 47-yard pass and was a thorny defender.

Dontay Thomas, who led the Golden Circle in interceptions last season and returns as a junior as the quintessential Swiss Knife player who can do it all, is the Tiger leader on defence. He barely saw action in the first half, but it was more than enough (also rushed for 80 yards on nine rushes) and he made key defensive plays. After back-to-back penalties put the Tigers in a hole, he energised the squad and got them moving on a first-and-20. Thomas ran 31 yards to the Liberty 44. Jones scored on a 33-yard Jet Sweep a few minutes later (no pun intended).

All night, Jace Richardson and Ben Brooks, who has the potential to have a big season, spearheaded the defence and kept the Tigers out of trouble.

The Tigers rushed for 323 yards in the opening and will be aiming for more rushing room against the Raiders of North Garland, who lost 45-32 to 6A North Mesquite in their debut.

The Raiders trailed 35-15 at halftime and were never in the game until they scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Godspower Nwawuihe, their quarterback, completed 11-of-26 passes for 178 yards last week. Last season, he passed for 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns and ran for 1,063 yards and 12 scores. Texas Football magazine describes him as “electric,” and the Tiger coaching staff refers to him as “the Player to Stop.”

North Garland returns a lot of skill from last year’s 6-5 squad, including three-year starter Adrian Ramirez on the offensive line and defensive leaders LB Jaden Davis and Gabe Harris, a pair of hard-hitting linebackers. Davis, the defensive team captain, is also a returning tailback who carried for 731 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

North Garland will be a major challenge for the Tigers, who have been expecting hard testing every Friday night this season.