TIFTON — It’s beginning to look like football season in Turner County.
Not only will the Rebels make their regular season debut tonight at Worth County, this will be the first game that counts for new head coach Nick Hayes. Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. at Milt Miller Field, where Worth County has announced that active and retired military personnel with a current military ID will be admitted free if they go to the pass gate on the home side of the stadium.
One thing will be different about this game for Turner than usual: they will be playing on artificial turf. Worth installed the new surface for this season.
“I hope our kids are prepared,” said Hayes.
Turner already has plenty of game preparation. Since the team did not hold spring practice, they were able to play an extra scrimmage game. Opponents were Berrien and Hawkinsville, the latter of which resulted in a shutout in Turner’s favor. Hayes was pleased with both weeks.
“I think we’ve done a lot of things well,” he said.
Hayes has praised his athletes for stepping up during the scrimmages. Hawkinsville, in particular, featured a balanced attack, with the Rebels scoring both through the air and on the ground. Elijah Stephens and Demarcus Barnes were among those involved in scoring.
Worth, too, is looking for a good start. The Rams are 1-19 over their last two seasons, breaking a 15-game skid last Sept. 14 with a 22-16 victory over Rutland. The recent woes are coupled with an aversion to opening games; Worth has not won its initial outing since 2013.
Frankie Carroll returns for a second season with the Rams. Hayes said Turner’s concern is with Worth’s offense. He said the Rams do a “good job running the Wing T.” The offense is primarily based on the ground, using deception to feature multiple ball-carriers.
Turner won last year’s contest by a 28-19 score, en route to a 6-5 season that ended in the first round of the Class A state playoffs.
Newness is a feature in Turner County this year. Hayes is the father of a new baby. He confesses that between season preparations and a little one in the home, he isn’t getting much sleep. Not that he minds.
“Landry (his daughter) has been a blessing,” he said, further describing her birth as “better than any win in football.”
Besides a new season, a new coach and new No. 1 fan, Turner is looking forward to something else new. Hayes said the team will get new uniforms this season. Home jerseys will be blue with orange numbers.
Turner will go from this week’s game in Sylvester to its home opener next week against Cook. Cook, also under new management, plays against Westover tonight.