I’m sad to report to Pioneer fans that a football coach has been hired and it’s not Gary Rankin. I know there are fans still holding out hope of the great one’s return, but it still hasn’t happened.
Instead, Matt Turner has been selected as the program’s 15th coach in 50 years. And he’s the right man at the right time.
Turner has long been a player favorite, always striking the right balance between tough love and knowing when to throw an arm around a struggling player. Most of all, his heart has always been with the Pioneers – dating back to his playing days.
It would be tough to find a man more dedicated to the Pioneers. Turner already serves as the school’s wrestling coach and he’s been a football assistant nine years, along with a two-year stint as WCMS football coach. The sports he now coaches are the same ones he once played in the mid-1990s, when he was feared on the mat and on the gridiron.
The scare factor is legit. Turner is no small man.
If you’ve been to a practice in the last few years, you’ll often see Turner in the mix with the Pioneer linemen. Even if they’re decked out on pads and he’s not, Turner will go full speed to simulate the size and strength of upcoming opponents. He’s not afraid to mix it up and his players gleefully march to the beat of his drum.
Make no mistake, Turner’s going to be a different sort on the sidelines.
Turner reminds me of a 6-foot-3, 250-pound Energizer bunny. He’s going to keep going and going and going. Replace the sounds of the symbols with howling for three hours from a guy who seems like he’s really hopped up on Mountain Dew and you’ve got Turner.
His type of passion is contagious. The Pioneers need to catch it.
Like every other coach for the last two decades, Turner’s first job will be to recruit the hallways. He’s going to have to bring kids into the fold, hoping to find some diamonds in the rough along the way.
Unlike the other three coaches I’ve covered since 2010 – Tommy Johnson, Scott Smith and Tom Moore – Turner will have the local sales pitch. He can tell players that he’s been in their shoes, walked the same halls and heard the same things they’ll hear. He’s found a way to stay positive during the plight of the Pioneers and hopefully that will entice players to follow his lead.
If players do, Warren County may have found its man.