Turner turns the corner

Lester Turner turns the corner with the football during the Greenville Lions’ home opener. Turner leads the Lions with 219 yards rushing on 28 carries.

  Last year the Greenville Lions went into the District 8-5A-II football opener at Corsicana with much inexperience at key positions.

  The Lions’ inexperience showed in a 40-14 loss to the Tigers, the eventual district champions.

  The Lions will have vastly more playing time under their belts when the two teams line up again at 7:30 tonight at T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium in the 2019 District 8-5A-II opener.

  Last year the Lions played only one preseason scrimmage and one full game before they faced Corsicana. Because of spring training, the 2018 Lions were allowed only one preseason scrimmage. They played one game but their second game was called off after only 14 plays due to lightning and not rescheduled.

  This time the Lions have played two preseason scrimmages and two full games. Lions coach Darren Duke said the experience factor should make a big difference in the rematch.

  “I really believe it does,” said Duke. “Just the number of games, the number of snaps.”

  Greenville’s starting quarterback Brandon Stephens went into the 2018 game against Corsicana with only three varsity snaps. He’d handed the ball off three times before the Lincoln game was called off.

  Stephens started most of the Lions’ games in 2018 and both of their games in 2019. This season the speedy junior has mixed up running and throwing, dashing for 188 yards and three touchdowns on 24 keeps and is 10-of-29 passing for 226 yards and three TDs.

  Stephens is directing a big-play offense that is averaging 41 points and 431.5 yards per game. Most of the Lions’ top skill position players run on their 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams in track and that speed has showed with six gains of 30 yards during the Lions’ 38-37 home loss to W.T. White of Dallas and then last week’s 45-12 victory over Dallas Lincoln.

  Stephens has completed passes of 60 and 55 yards to receivers Shawn Brown and Caleb Johnson and has run for a long gain of 45 yards. Johnson has also rushed for a long gain of 30 yards.

  Lester Turner, the Lions’ leading rusher with 219 yards on 28 carries, has run for a long gain of 61 yards.

  Dartaveon Wilkerson also ran for a 40-yard touchdown last week against Lincoln.

  Duke said it was great to see the Lions “play at such a high level” following their loss to W.T. White.

  The Lions are facing a Corsicana team that lost its opener 34-21 to Burleson Centennial but bounced back last week to down Fort Worth Boswell, 40-34.

  “They look really good,” said Duke. “They’re big. They’re athletic.”

  Sophomore quarterback Solomon James directs the Tigers’ offense. He’s 37-of-61 passing for 567 yards and five touchdowns.

  Duke said James “has a great arm” and “runs well.”

  Lane Fuentes has been James’ favorite target, catching 14 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

  Qua Chambers has caught eight passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

  Eric Dickson led the Tiger rushers last week with 193 yards on 18 carries, including an 82-yard touchdown run.

  Damarius Daniels also rushed for 100 yards on 12 carries, including a 64-yard TD scamper and a 12-yarder for the game-winning score with 34 seconds remaining.

  Trying to contain the Tigers is a Lion defense that played the first two games without all-district defensive end Tucker Momon and last game without all-district defensive end Jeremiah Abrego.

  “Everyone is available,” said Duke, about the defense. “We’ll be as close to full strength as we’ve been.”

  Corsicana has a new head coach: Hal Wasson. Wasson’s in his 31st season with a career record of 240 wins, 112 losses and three ties. He won big at Kerens, Mexia, Keller Fossil Ridge and Southlake Carroll before taking on the Tigers’ head job.

  “Coach Wasson is a legendary coach,” said Duke. “You know they’re going to be well-coached.”

  Duke said this game will be a “good measuring” stick to see how the Lions stack up in the district.

  “They’re a good group of kids that are looking forward to the challenge,” he said of the Lions.

GAME: Corsicana Tigers at Greenville Lions.

TIME: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

SITE: T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium.

RADIO: KGVL-AM (1400), FM 105.9

         Greenville Lions

       2019 Season Stats

            RUSHING

                                   Att.    Yds.  Avg.  TDs Lg

Lester Turner                28    219    7.8    1    61

Brandon Stephens         24    188    7.8    3    45

Miles Denson                13    106    8.1    2    26

Dartaveon Wilkerson      4       56  14.0    1    40

Caleb Johnson                3      38  12.7    0    30

Tyrecus Davis                 1      23  23.0    1    23

Cameron Mapps              2       4     2.0    0    3

Zavion Jackson                1       3    3.0    0    3

                  PASSING

                                       C A I      Pct.    Yds.     TDs.    LG

Brandon Stephens          10 29  1      .345      226    3    60

                 RECEIVING

                          Rec.    Yds.    Avg.    TDs    LG

Shawn Brown         3    112    37.3    2    60

Caleb Johnson        3    74    24.7    1    55

Miles Denson          3    27    9.0    0    12

Ja’Quez Davis         1    13    13.0    0    13

                 TEAM TOTALS

                           Att.    Yds.    Avg.    TDs    LG

Opponent rush        85    436    5.1    4    50

Greenville rush        76    637    8.4    8    61

                  PASSING

                       C   A  I      Pct.     Yds.     TDs    LG

Opponent         29 46 1     .630      333    3    51

Greenville         10 29 0     .345      226    3    60

                 TOTAL OFFENSE

                     Plays     Yds.      Avg.    TDs    LG

Opponent        131       769      384.5      7    51

Greenville        105       863      431.5    11    61

                  PUNTING

                   Punts Yds.    Avg.    BL    LG

Opponent        8    287    35.9    0    50

Greenville        4    189    47.2    0    56

           GREENVILLE PUNTING

                    Punts  Yds.  Avg.    BL    LG

Zach Allen        4    189    47.2    0    56

          SCORE BY QUARTERS

Opponent        14     0     14    22    —50

Greenville        14    20    28    20    —82

          SEASON RESULTS

W.T. White 38, Greenville 37

Greenville 45, Dallas Lincoln 12

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