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Cotey: Loss won't tarnish Turner's final bow

The loss is one thing: 40-20.

The way they lost is another, getting blown out in every facet of the game.

"So hot…''

But this….this was no fitting end for any man, woman or child.

"So hot…''

Not here, not on this field, and especially not with that infernal song blaring over the speakers.

"So hot …so hot to be a Dreadnaught.''

If the memory of that song — and trust me, I'm humming it right now and I'll be humming it tomorrow and the next day, too — doesn't make Chamberlain coach Billy Turner retire, then nothing will.

Not the wishes of his friends, and he says just about every one of them is pushing him toward the rocking chair.

Not the wishes of his wife, to whom he deferred when asked if this game Lakeland was his last.

"I can't say,'' he said. "My wife will kill me."

The chances of ever having to hear that song should be enough to chase any old coach to the golf course.

"So hot…''

Turner, 71, says he will wait until after Christmas to decide.

There aren't many who think he'll be back, or should be back. They want to see him retire, enjoy life, the 657 children and grandchildren he has.

This was his 38th year as a coach, and he has terrifically coached some terrific teams to more than 250 wins.

This was one of his best teams, and he talked lovingly of this group, like he often does, in the preseason.

This group, he thought, would be the one to give him his first state championship.

But ultimately, it was not to be. The chance of these Chiefs passing a postseason Bermuda Triangle of Lakeland, Pensacola Pine Forest, then probably Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in consecutive weeks — all strong physical teams the likes of which Chamberlain has not played well against (read: Plant High) — were slim.

If you believed, you probably just wanted to see the deserving veteran get a state championship.

The chances of winning a state title next year, without stars like Dontae Aycock, Dontavious Pyron and Kenny Allen, are even slimmer.

His work here, on Friday nights, should be done.

Turner has struggled with his health, issues with his heart that put him in a hospital and left him so fatigued he can't yell for two hours at practices anymore.

And a coach who can't yell at practices, can't yell at games, and a coach who can't yell at games isn't really doing a whole lot of coaching anyway, now is he?

"I can't just be a fixture,'' he said. "I have to coach.''

He woke up Friday knowing it could be the last day he led a football team of young men into battle.

That made him sad.

That made it tough talking about the future.

To think about retiring.

His players told him they wanted to win this one for him. He told them that was not a good enough reason to want to win.

"I told them don't worry about me,'' Turner said. "I'll be fine.''

He will be.

The Chiefs didn't send him out with a victory. But after 250 of those, it wasn't really all that necessary.

If Turner decides to retire, he's still going out on top.

John C. Cotey can be reached at

Cotey: Loss won't tarnish Turner's final bow 12/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 11:44am]
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