WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington High School’s football head coach Craig Turner was recently a guest on the ‘Beyond X’s and O’s’ podcast with host and Wilmington resident Anthony Petrelis.
During the 60-minute interview, Turner discussed how a football injury in college led to coaching career. He discussed his time at Mystic Valley in Malden, which was the only charter school in Massachusetts playing football at the time. After serving as offense and defensive coordinator, Turner was promoted to head coach, where he went 9-2, 8-3 and 8-3 in his final three seasons.
Turner made the jump to Wilmington, in part, because of travel. He lived in Westford and worked in Billerica, and was away from home from 6:30am to 9pm during football season at Mystic Valley. Wilmington represented the perfect distance between his house and job. Turner noted that Wilmington loves its football and he saw a lot of potential in the position.
“I plan on staying for as long as they’ll have me. It’s a perfect fit for me,” said Turner. “The kids are great. It couldn’t have worked out any better for me.”
Turner explained the importance of having to change the culture and instilling a winning attitude into players during his first year. He also discussed how the success in his first year saw the program grow in size from approximately 60 to 90 kids with a strong freshmen program. Turner acknowledged his team hasn’t had as much success of the past two years, noting they’ve been young and suffered some injuries. He also noted that playing in the Middlesex League leads to a difficult schedule where “every week is a tough battle.” He discussed his preference towards the spread offense, noting he plans on being more tight-end oriented this season with bigger personnel on the field.
Turned emphasized how he tries to keep in touch with the players year-round and supports them in the other sports they play. He praised his coaching staff, and mentioned how his brother (defensive coordinator) and father (special teams coordinator) take the most abuse from him. Turner is excited for the start of the season to start, but notes navigating COVID-19 has been tough as the team hasn’t been able to do anything.
Turner also discusses sacrifices all football coaches have to make, offers advice to younger coaches, and names the best player he ever coached, the biggest coaching victory in his career, and the toughest coach he’s been up against.
Watch the interview below:
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