Tyler Turner

New Olive Branch Conquistador football coach Tyler Turner speaks to the DeSoto County school board after the board formally approved his hiring Tuesday. Turner coached Liberty Tech (Jackson, Tenn.) to a state semifinal and state championship appearance in the two years he spent there.  

New Olive Branch High School football coach Tyler Turner has a bit of advice for football fans watching his team in action this fall: Don’t go for the popcorn once the Quistors get the ball. You’re going to miss a lot.

“Offensively, we’re going to be a no-huddle, up-tempo spread offense and we’re trying to snap the ball after just two seconds gone on the play clock,” Turner said Tuesday. “We’re going to use every bit of speed on our team to our advantage and speed is not going to be an issue here at Olive Branch.”

Turner, introduced to the DeSoto County Board of Education after the board formally approved his hiring in a special session before a budget hearing Tuesday afternoon, added the players on the other side of the ball won’t play nice with their opponents.

“Defensively, we’re going to have 11 guys get to the football on every play in a bad mood,” Turner said. “We’re going to play faster than any defensive team in the state of Mississippi.”

Those were some bold predictions from Turner, the same coach who turned Liberty Tech Magnet (Jackson, Tenn.) into a state challenger in just two short seasons, who now faces the same challenge in turning around the fortunes of a tradition-rich Quistor program that has fallen on hard times in recent years. Turner has also been an assistant coach at Wynne, Ark., where his teams enjoyed similar success there.

“We went 25-4 in my two years there (Liberty Tech), the first undefeated regular season in school history when I was there,” Turner said. “We went 13-1 and lost to a big private school in Tennessee. We actually had a rematch with that same private school in the state semifinals and beat them, but then lost to 15-time state champion Alcoa in the finals.”

The “big private school” was Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville, which Liberty Tech lost 21-0 to in the TSSAA Class 3A semifinals in 2015. Last season, Liberty Tech avenged the loss with a 33-20 victory in the semifinals before running into Alcoa 45-12 in the BlueCross Bowl state finals at Cookeville, Tenn.

Meanwhile, the Quistors suffered through a winless 2016 campaign, a far cry from its undefeated 2011 MHSAA 6A state championship team under since-departed coach Scott Samsel, whose controversial firing by then-principal Allyson Killough after the 2013 season started the recent problems with keeping coaches in Olive Branch and subsequently winning games.

Three others, including last year’s coach Pete Hurt, were either relieved of their duties, or in the case of Steve Buckley, left after one season for another job.

“I did some research on it, but it didn’t concern me at all,” Turner said. “At Olive Branch, the expectations are high, so you’ve got to win and I know that. But, that’s what excites me about it and I also know that you can win here.”

New school Principal Jacob Stripling said a search committee was formed after Hurt was released as coach earlier this spring. The group culled “an almost-nationwide search,” as he put it, down to what was considered the top seven-to-eight candidates left in the entire region and the final choice was his decision.

“After I sat down and interviewed everyone that was left, he was the guy,” Stripling said. “When I met with the candidates, I stressed to them that I needed someone who was going to come in and be loyal to the community and loyal to the players for years to come.”

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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