Carroll County’s new football coach has worked and learned under some of the best coaches in the business and has a proven track record of turning around losing programs.
On Monday night, the Carroll County School Board approved the hiring of former Pulaski County and Auburn head coach Jack Turner. A former linebacker at Pulaski County High and Ferrum College, Turner played and later coached under legendary coaches in Hank Norton and Joel Hicks. After his time as a restricted earnings coach at Ferrum, he began as an assistant coach at Franklin County before assuming the same role and later becoming the head coach at Pulaski, where he took over when Hicks retired.
Turner served as head coach from 2003-2009 at Pulaski, where he compiled a 62-58 record, including an appearance in the Group AA Division 4 semifinals in 2008. In 2012, Turner took over an Auburn program that had lost 29 straight games. The Eagles went 0-10 in Turner’s first season as head coach before things changed dramatically. Auburn went on to finish with winning seasons the next three years, making the playoffs each time, including first-round playoff wins in 2013 and 2014.
Turner left Auburn with a 20-25 record after 2015 after having stents put into his heart. He took a year off from football before returning to the sideline this past season as an assistant coach at Galax. Turner inherits a Carroll County program that has won just five games over the past four seasons and has not had a winning season since 2010. He sees many similarities with Carroll as when he turned things around at Auburn.
“When I started investigating and looking at it, I don’t think there is a lot of difference in it. You have got a great superintendent and a great administrative team that wants to win,” Turner said. “You have got kids that have continued to play and participate in the sport, without success, but they keep showing up so that tells you right there they want to be successful. That was a draw right there. And once I got here and saw the infrastructure, I think Carroll County has a lot going for it. The parallel between the two is very, very similar and playing in the same district as Auburn.”
Now a member of the Pioneer District, Auburn was a member of the Three Rivers District when Turner coached there, the same district Carroll County now calls home. Turner said he is familiar with what the Cavaliers will be facing and he is very confident in what the football team will be able to do once his system is firmly in place.
“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t take the job. I am very confident in my ability to build this program to where they want it to be. I have met with the coaches and I think there is a nice coaching staff already in place,” Turner said. “I just have to teach them the Jack Turner way and once they get that we will have a great staff. And once I teach the kids the Jack Turner way we will have a great team and program, I feel confident in that.”
Turner said being able to coach this past season under Mark Dixon at Galax, who he calls one of the top coaches in the state of Virginia, was a huge blessing for him. When the opportunity at Carroll County came open, he liked what he saw after researching the job.
“I have known Carroll County for years. I have actually scrimmaged them when I was at Auburn. Of course (former Carroll County head coach) Tommy Hale was on the staff when I played at Pulaski and then Tommy and I coached together at Pulaski, and of course the Superintendent Dr. Perry, I think is top notch,” Turner said. “Then once I did my research and found out about (CCHS Principal Chuck) Thompson and the administration here and once I got to meet them and know them, it was a no-brainer. I just thought it was a great fit for me to come here and coach football. I am very honored to be here and very excited. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but if everybody will be patient with me for a year I will turn it around and get us winning.”
Expect Carroll County to run the Wing-T offense and show multiple looks on defense – both trademarks of Turner-coached teams. Turner calls himself a program coach – doing one thing and getting real good at that one thing.
“That was actually reaffirmed this year with my time with Coach Dixon. The great coaches that I have been around, they get good at what they do. And I have run the same thing all my life. And I know it, I understand it, I know how to adjust to it, so we’ll run the wing-T on offense and multiple defense,” Turner said. “The thing about it is if you change, people say, ‘Well, you’ve got to do it to your personnel.’ Well the personnel changes every year, so if you are changing an offense every year, well in four years the kids will have been through four different offenses. Well now you are not very good at anything, so we are going to get good at what we do, and once you get good at what you do then you become real good, and that is how you build a program. So that is the way I am. I am very no-nonsense disciplinarian and what I say goes. That is an old-school guy and that is okay. I don’t apologize for it.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN