With its third coach in as many years, the Ashley football program is looking for stability on the sidelines and Jeff Turner believes he has the right recipe to help bring consistency to a team that has won just two conference games over the past two seasons.
While the first-year head coach is content with what he knows will be a grinding process to change the culture heading into his rookie season and moving forward, Turner is excited about the possibilities for the Screaming Eagles after moving down the road following years of success as defensive coordinator at Hoggard.
“We’re looking at things one day at a time,” Turner said. “The process is getting our guys mental thoughts in line with what we’re trying to do and then from the physical standpoint. I’m really optimistic. They’ve done a great job and I like our basic core. We’ve worked really hard, 50-60 strong every day in the summer and they’ve been committed.”
Turner replaces Mike Propst, who announced plans to step down as head coach following an 0-10 season in 2014. Having spent the last 11 years at the school on Shipyard Boulevard, he’s been waiting for an opportunity like this to present itself to continue his passion for the game and turn around a program thirsty for success.
“Controlling the things we can control is an important focus right now,” Turner added. “It’s really about the kids and giving them the best high school experience possible. I’ve seen a lot of great stories over the years and they can see that I truly care about how and what they do.”
The new head man at Ashley credits a lifetime of dedication to the sport for helping prepare for the challenges ahead. He’s looking to set a basic foundation in 2015, with the hope that excitement begins to grow around the school’s campus, which will bring more athletes to the program, while putting more fans in the seats on Friday night.
Since taking over the job in late January, the former East Carolina football player has been working to create enthusiasm and help teach the basic fundamentals of the game, which will help prepare his players for success on and off the field.
“We’ve got some kids who really love football,” said Turner. “They want to be taught. They’re taking in every single thing, every little detail with open eyes and have been really coachable so far.”
Like most of the other teams across the area, Ashley will practice over the next two weeks early each morning heading into the BB&T Jamboree on Aug. 14. The Screaming Eagles will scrimmage West Brunswick at the showcase event, with two home games and two away games as part of their non-conference schedule leading up to league play at West Brunswick on Sept. 25.
“For what it is, the jamboree is a scrimmage,” said Turner. “It’s going to be basic block and tackle and very vanilla heading into that night. We’re going to come out and get some second and third teamers some experience. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and we look forward to getting out there.”
Ashley will have a few newcomers looking to make an immediate impact this season, but Turner is focused on developing the entire group as a unit looking to bring a different attitude to the Screaming Eagles’ sideline.
“We have a group that I feel like all working together can accomplish some great things,” said Turner. “We don’t have a whole lot of superstars, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make things happen on the football field if we start to believe we can achieve our goals.”
Ashley 2015 schedule
Friday, Aug. 21 vs. White Oak
Friday, Aug. 28 @ Swansboro
Friday, Sept. 4 @ Fairmont
Friday, Sept. 18 vs. Westover
Friday, Sept. 25 @ West Brunswick
Friday, Oct. 2 vs. North Brunswick
Friday, Oct. 9 vs. Topsail
Friday, Oct. 16 @ South Brunswick
Friday, Oct. 23 vs. New Hanover
Friday, Oct. 30 @ Hoggard
Friday, Nov. 6 vs. Laney
Joe Catenacci is a sports reporter at Port City Daily. Reach him at email@example.com.