Photo by Hays Collins

By Robert Wilson

Tyler Turner has resigned after one season as Jackson Prep’s football coach. And don’t look for the coach he replaced, former National Coach of the Year and Mississippi Hall of Fame member Ricky Black, to come back to Prep.

When contacted about Turner’s resignation, Black gave the indication that wasn’t going to happen.

“All I’m going to say is, I have enjoyed this year,” said Black, who has 401 career victories, the second most in Mississippi history. Black has enjoyed spending time with his wife, Linda, and two of their grandchildren, who attend Prep.

Turner was hired after Black surprisingly resigned in February last year after a brilliant career at Prep. He had a 263-43 record, an amazing, 85.9 winning percentage, and 13 MAIS state championships, including a Mississippi record seven consecutive from 2012-2018, in his 24 seasons at Prep.

“Coach Tyler Turner will not be returning for the 2022-23 football season at Jackson Prep.  We thank Coach Turner for his contributions to Jackson Prep and our student athletes last season, and we wish him well as he pursues new opportunities,” said Jackson Prep athletic director Will Crosby in a statement released from the school. “The Jackson Prep administration will immediately begin the search for a new head football coach.”

Prep defensive coordinator Nick Brewer and assistant coach Rusty Burke will continue the team’s offseason training program.

“After discussions with the administration at Jackson Prep, my family and I will be leaving Jackson Prep to pursue other football interests,” Turner said. “During my career, I have never shied away from a challenge and I have no regrets taking on this one. I fought for the student athletes and my family to make it work at Jackson Prep, but the obstacles were too great to overcome,” Turner said. “I am so proud of what this year’s team accomplished. I will always cherish the relationships I have built with the young men I coached at Jackson Prep, and the parents that were so welcoming to my family and me. The young men at Jackson Prep are achievers, and I look forward to seeing what all they achieve in the future.”

Prep finished 8-5 this season, the most losses since 1970, the first year of the school. The Patriots got off to an 0-2 start with losses to MAIS Class 3A champion Greenville Christian 48-13 and MAIS Class 5A champion Heritage 39-21. Prep also lost to Rankin County rival Hartfield Academy twice (22-17 during the regular season and 17-13 in the 6A semifinals) – the first time the two schools had met in football – and MAIS Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy 50-20. The 50 points tied for the most points Prep had allowed in a game in school history. It was the second straight year MRA had scored 50 points against Prep.

Turner, a 35-year-old Tennessee native and Arkansas State graduate, came to Prep from Goodpasture Christian School in Madison, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. Turner had a 67-15 record in six seasons as a head coach, with 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. 

Prep finished 7-3 in 2020 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, Prep had 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 (2019 and 2020) 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 wasn’t 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. But that didn’t happen.

Now, Prep must start over to find a replacement.