When Billy Turner was a rookie high school head football coach 38 years ago, just four Super Bowls had been played, it was four years until Watergate and Janet Jackson was just 4 years old. Turner, Hillsborough County's all-time winningest coach, earned his 250th career victory Thursday night with a 42-21 win over Jefferson. It also marked his 200th win at Chamberlain, a landmark in itself. Turner, who will turn 71 next month, shrugged it off, saying he was more proud that his Class 5A state title contending Chiefs improved to 7-0.
But the fact is that with the high school game forever changed — with life spans of coaches at this level shrinking because of constant scrutiny, a nonexistent offseason, more media attention and early burnout — we might never see another local coach reach such a mark.
"It's hard to stay in coaching that long," Turner said. "You have to have a very supportive wife, for one thing. Your family has to be for you doing it and you have to be a little crazy, I think.
"You always have little fires to put out. Every day there's a little fire. And when you get old, it's hard to do because you don't have the stamina and strength and all that."
Turner has had just four losing seasons in 38 years, and this year's team has its best shot to give Turner his first career state title since the 2001 team that fell one win short of that glory. Still, if the Chiefs make the playoffs, it will be Turner's 10th straight postseason ride.
"He's a legend," Chiefs quarterback Dontae Aycock said. "I know he's been coaching for a long time and he's been around coaching for a long time and not that many coaches can get to 250 wins. I think it's a great achievement for Coach Turner."
His career is a testament to longevity. No coach is within 71 wins of Turner. Next week will mark his 400th game as a head coach.
"I don't think we'll see it happen again," said Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia, the county's second-longest tenured coach behind Turner and a former assistant under Turner. "When you're in the pros, you're just coaching. When you're in college you're just coaching.
"But in high school, you're washing uniforms, wrapping ankles, planning team meals, being a family consultant. It just goes to show the tremendous amount of commitment he's had for the kids he coaches.
"He's the Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno of our county," he said.