A 35-year-old Tennessee native who graduated from Arkansas State has been selected as the replacement for former National High School Football Coach of the Year and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame coach Ricky Black as Jackson Prep’s head football coach.
Tyler Turner was announced Tuesday to replace Black, who is the second winningest high school football coach in Mississippi history with 401 victories and began coaching at Prep in 1997. Black – who is 19th in the nation in victories among active coaches – announced his surprising resignation in a letter a month ago.
A news conference for Turner is scheduled for Thursday at 9:15 a.m. at Prep. Turner has a 67-15 record in six seasons as a head coach, most recently a 9-3 record in one season at Goodpasture Christian School in Madison, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. Turner also coached three seasons at MHSAA Class 6A Olive Branch and two seasons at Class 3A Liberty Technology Magnet School in Jackson, Tenn. Turner led Goodpasture to its first semifinal appearance in 10 years and the school’s first winning season since joining the Tennessee Division II-Class AA Private School Division four years ago. Goodpasture’s three losses last season were to state champion Christ Presbyterian Academy (two losses) and state runner-up Lipscomb Academy (one loss). Goodpasture was 7-26 over the past three seasons, including 4-7 in 2019, before Turner arrived.
Turner guided Olive Branch to a 12-2 record in his first season there after an 0-11 season the year before he arrived and was the fifth coach in five seasons. He led Olive Branch to records of 12-2, 12-2 and 9-4. Turner took Liberty to the first undefeated regular season in school history and the state championship game for the first time in school history in 2016 and had a two-year record of 25-4.
Prep finished 7-3 last season and didn’t make the MAIS Class 6A championship game for the first time since 2010 and didn’t win the state title for the second straight year for the first time since Jackson Academy won three straight from 2009-2011. Prep lost to JA 28-21 in the 6A semifinals for the first time in 13 meetings. Since Black led Prep to a Mississippi record seven straight state titles from 2012-2018, Prep has lost to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in all three meetings since by scores of 34-22, 48-33 and 50-24. Prep lost five MAIS games in the last two years for the first time since 2004-2005. Black was one quarter from being in the state title game this past season, but JA scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, the winning touchdown in the last minute. Turner’s job won’t be to turn around a program like he did at Olive Branch or Goodpasture, but to bring Prep back to the top like Black did during his seven-year state title run. Black won 13 state titles in his 24 seasons at Prep. Turner must try to get past rivals MRA, JA and now nearby Hartfield, which moves up to 6A next season. MRA has won 19 straight games and 30 of its last 31 against MAIS competition.
“The expectations at Jackson Prep are high,” Prep head of school Lawrence Coco said. “Our goal each year is to produce champions both on and off the field. I believe Coach Turner is prepared to meet and exceed these expectations. The Prep football program is in great hands.”“Tyler distinguished himself as the right person for this job,” Prep athletic director Will Crosby said. “His coaching success shows that he will be ready to continue the winning tradition established by the legendary Prep coaches who have come before him. I am excited about this new era of Prep football.”
“I am extremely honored to be the new head football coach at Jackson Prep,” Turner said. “I would like to thank Mr. Coco, Mr. Crosby, and the search committee for entrusting me with the responsibility of building on the rich tradition of Prep football.” Prep has only nine starters returning and lost key starters like running back Matt Jones, defensive back/wide receiver Thaxton Burch, linebacker Braedon Mabry and quarterback/punter Riley Maddox, all members of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Team last season.
Turner will start at Prep on April 1 and coach spring practice in May. Prep’s opens up with defending MAIS Class 2A state champion Greenville Christian August 20 at Prep. Greenville Christian won 11 straight games after picking up two dozen transfers from area public schools. Greenville Christian defeated Carroll Academy 52-20 in the championship game. Greenville Christian returns one of the top athletes in the state in senior quarterback D.J. Smith, who transferred from Greenwood High. Prep plays MRA on Oct. 1, followed by an open date, then JA on Oct. 15 and Hartfield Oct. 22.
Black, 71, said in his resignation letter than he isn’t retiring, just resigning from Prep. He has a 401-79 career record in 40 seasons, including a 263-44 record, an 85.6 winning percentage, at Prep. He was named the National High School Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 2018 and was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. He won 49 games at Kosciusko High, 89 at Tupelo High and was an assistant coach at Mississippi State for six years before coming to Prep in 1997. Black said Wednesday that he is in no hurry to find another job, just working on completing this school year.