Football practice officially began in the state of Virginia on Thursday, but for Carroll County it was hardly the beginning of the Jack Turner era.
A former head coach at Auburn and Pulaski County, Turner was named the Cavaliers’ head coach in January. Since that time, the 55 members of the CCHS football team have been busting their hind parts to get ready for the official start of the football season.
“We have been going all summer long, lifting and going through our summer practices. The kids have really worked hard,” Turner said. “I don’t know if we will ever win a game, but I cannot be more proud of a group of kids and how hard they have worked this summer for me.”
Turner inherits a Carroll County program that won just five games over the past four seasons and hasn’t had a winning record since 2010. He 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.
If the level of interest is an indication, things could be beginning to look up for Carroll County. Turner has been pleasantly surprised to see so many kids come out for football this season.
“We have 55 kids there and it kind of surprises me we have that many. Kids don’t play football that much anymore. I would say the average for a high school program is anywhere from 40 to 60 kids, so 55 in this area is pretty good,” Turner said. “I can’t tell you what other schools have, but that is above the norm. I have a friend of mine down on the eastern shore at a 5A school and he was only averaging 25 kids a day lifting during summer. The worst we have had is 45 and that was when people were on vacation.”
On Friday, the Cavaliers seemed to be enthused about the beginning of a new season. While teams can’t start hitting yet, Carroll looked crisp for this early in fall camp. Turner said that is something he tries to instill from the top down.
“We have been working hard all summer long and the thing you found I out is if I am into it and I am energetic, and your leader is leading, they will follow you. I tell those kids if ever you think I haven’t given you my best you let me know. In 29 years of coaching I have never had that problem,’ Turner said. “You will get my best every day. And they have really bought into the intensity and the hard work and expectations. These are the 55 that made it through the summer following my rules and regulations.”
Carroll County will get its first official test under Turner with a three-team scrimmage on August 11 at Narrows. Turner said he will find out quickly what the Cavaliers have when they face the regional runner-up Green Wave.
“Narrows has everybody back from a team that lost to Galax in the region championship game by about three points. They are expecting to have a heck of a football team and I won’t know what I have unless I scrimmage somebody quality like that,” Turner said. “I told our coaches and our kids, I have to find out who likes contact. That is the unknown.”
Carroll will also travel to Christiansburg for a benefit scrimmage on August 17 before opening the regular season August 24 at home against Patrick County. Turner said he is excited about his coaching staff, which includes the return of Rick Nester to the gridiron. Adam Nester, Casey Burcham, Russell Smoot and Matthew Kirby are back on staff, while Turner has been reunited with Ben Tickle, a former assistant coach of his at Pulaski.
“Ben is a guy that has his doctorate, he is a doctor of special education and Carroll County got a phenomenal educator. And anytime you have a teacher and have your doctorate you must be pretty sharp,” Turner said. “Once I took the Carroll County job he called me and said he wanted to coach football again. I thought he was joking. I have been very, very pleased with our coaching staff. They are doing a great job. We mesh well together and everybody does a nice job in their role. I am real pleased with those guys.”
Carroll County 2018 Football Schedule
Fri., Aug. 24 – Patrick County, 7 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 31 – at Grayson County, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 7 – Galax, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 – at Pulaski County, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 – Glenvar, 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 – at Floyd County, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 – Giles, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 19 – at Alleghany, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 26 – Radford. 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 2 – at James River, 7 p.m.