Before last Saturday his squad had only mustered 28 points in three games. Turk hears the rumblings of disappointed fans of the program, but he also knows the game. What he is doing with this young team happens behind the scenes and that is where he is seeing growth and heart.
"It's like taking down the old studs of house and replacing them with new," he said about rebuilding a program. Yes, this young team has given up a lot of points and the offense has struggled to move the ball consistently, let alone getting over the goal line. Turk points out his starting front line of sophomores, 15-year-olds mostly, often face 17 - to 18-year-olds on the other side of the line.
"That's not an excuse," Turk emphasizes as he preaches to his teams that "Standards are standards." He is hoping to raise those standards each week.
So going into Saturday's home game against a strong Warren team, Turk knew it could possibly be another long night for his kids.The Dragons have only one loss on the season against state ranked Cathedral Prep
The task for this second-year head coach was to motivate his squad to keep going while focusing on the goal of improvement and getting stronger each week.
He and his coaches literally went to the drawing board to develop plays that could minimize the team's weaknesses while building further on their strengths. Turk admitted the drop back pass or slow developing plays just wouldn't work against the bigger teams with more experience. Quickness and agility needed to become their weapon than than trying to overpower their opponents.
Turk pointed out several young player's abilities and how he sees them just getting better each week.He has high hopes for them in the coming years.
Then, before taking the field on Saturday, he gathered the team together in the locker room. He got passionate, at times loudly motivating the team about tenacity, grit and backing down from nobody.
He then asked them all to create a circle, to put a hand on or arm around the person next to them as a unit. He then told the team he puts his trust in each of them as he talked about family.
The Franklin Knight football family.
Growing pains are softened when surrounded by family.
He knew the game ahead wasn't going to be easy, but he also wasn't interested in backing down from a challenge.
He and his staff see the work being done daily and optimism grows. "Those are the things that people on the outside just don't see." Turk said.
They now can go into week five against Conneaut with some renewed enthusiasm now seeing the benefits of being a family in a collective battle to just simply get better. And Conneaut is a team they can beat.The 0-4 Eagles have only scored 26 points in four games including being blanked by Warren in week one.
The Knights travel to Linesville Friday for the 7 p.m. contest.
With each practice and each game, these young kids getter older and wiser. They build knowledge and muscle. In doing so they close the gap between being a kid and the near adult seniors they often face on the opposite side of the ball. It is a lot like being the younger sibling of the family. At some point something clicks and you're no longer the little kid, your the equal brother or sister.
That's what Matt Turk is trying to show his kids as he faces the opposition each week knowing it could be tough to come out with a W. He admits it’s tough to lose and it’s harder to lose badly week after week. But he refuses to dwell on that. Last week when he showed up on game day to talk to a reporter his eyes seemed to capture the movement of every kid walking on to campus. He began to call individuals over to show off their arm strength or to ask about preparation. He then talked to each about weight training and preparation.
More teachable moments.
He is like a proud father, all the coaches are, and what many forget about coaching is that it is teaching practice, not just looking far schemes to win. That is part of it, but the real focus is learning from each other about being better. The kids teach the coaches too and they challenge each other to do and be better.