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Saxony names O.J. Turner as school’s first football coach

In a press conference last week, O.J. Turner addresses Saxony Lutheran after being named the football team's first-ever head coach. Photo by Justin Hotop

In a press conference last Tuesday nearly a month after announcing its addition of a football program on Jan. 24, Saxony Lutheran named the program’s first head coach.

Leading the Crusaders on the gridiron will be former Southeast Missouri State and Cape Central football player O.J. Turner. He was a four-year starter at SEMO (2001-2004) and even played professionally for the River City Rage in St. Louis of the Indoor Football League.

“This is super exciting,” Turner said at the press conference. “I know a lot of these kids with my daughter going to school here, so it feels like family before we even get started.”

Even though this will be Turner’s first time as a high school football head coach, he’s no stranger to coaching the sport. O.J. helped develop the Junior Tigers youth football team for four years, learning plenty from current Cape Central head coach Kent Gibbs.

Gibbs, who was inducted into the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012, has led the Tigers varsity team to back-to-back district championships and 10-win seasons.

“You look at Coach Gibbs at Cape Central, Coach [Ryan] Nesbitt at Jackson and even Coach [Tom] Matukewicz at SEMO, they all have done a really great job of creating a culture within their program,” Turner said. “We want to be able to do the same thing here.”

Turner will now be tasked with forming his coaching staff and continuing reaching out to students about joining the Crusaders football program. O.J. stated that around 20 are currently interested with hopes of having as many as 40 come next fall.

Even though Saxony will only play a junior varsity schedule next school year, students from each grade are encouraged to join the team.

“The main goal is to create good husbands and fathers, and football is a byproduct of that,” Turner noted.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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