By PHILLIP WILLIAMS
GILMER — Matt Turner, longtime offensive coordinator in Gilmer High School’s phenomenally successful football program, was named head coach and athletic director Monday night by the Gilmer ISD Board of Trustees.
Turner, the lone finalist for the job, was approved by a 5-0 vote with one board member absent, said school superintendent Rick Albritton, who announced March 6 he had chosen Turner as finalist. Turner said the board had a short interview with him in closed session before voting to name him.
Turner has been the Gilmer Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator for the last 12 seasons, during which time Gilmer won three state championships and played in two other state title games under head coach Jeff Traylor.
Traylor, who was also athletic director, announced in February he was leaving to become an assistant football coach at The University of Texas at Austin.
Turner, 56, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph in a telephone interview Monday evening that this will be his first time to be a head football coach in his 33 years in public education, although he noted he has been a head baseball coach.
Before coming to Gilmer, he had coached for 12 years at Jacksonville, part of which time Traylor was also an assistant coach there. Turner also coached five years at Marshall, where the team won a state title during that time.
“Obviously, I’m very excited about the opportunity and very grateful” to the school board and Albritton for it, Turner said. He added he was “excited about continuing to build the program”, which won the state Class 4A Division II title in December by beating West Orange-Stark, 35-25.
“Jeff will be certainly missed. ... We’ll try to carry on. As he said, no one’s bigger than the team,” Turner added.
Turner, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arkansas State University, was on the Gilmer coaching staff during the 2004 and 2009 state championship seasons, and when the Buckeyes reached the state title game in 2007 and 2012.
Gilmer has made the grid playoffs for the last 14 seasons, all under Traylor.