Last season, Jack Turner was a special-teams performer on Natick High’s football squad.
This fall, the 5-foot-11, 155-pound senior won a starting job at cornerback and safety. Through the first seven games — all wins — Turner (inset at right) had no interceptions.
After last week’s 32-14 Bay State Conference win over Needham, he had five to his credit.
No wonder Turner could not get to sleep after the game. “I was still pumped up. I was trying to remember all five,’’ he said.
Two of the interceptions were leaping grabs. “I really can’t jump that high,” he said. “I just used my body to box the receiver out and try to catch the ball at the highest point.’’
To say Turner’s school-record performance came as a surprise is an understatement. “He was competing for a starting job until two weeks ago,’’ said head coach Mark Mortarelli. “He made two great over-the-shoulder catches. He's a good outfielder. I think his baseball skills took over.’’
Turner said, “Some people were teasing me. They said I should have had more than five. I kept catching them. I surprised myself.’’
The sudden star turn made Turner a bit uncomfortable. Quarterback Troy Flutie and receiver Brian Dunlap, who have connected for 12 touchdown passes, are usually the center of attention. This time, it was Turner.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I was never interviewed before. I’m pretty bad at it.’’
“When he got to the locker room, it erupted,’’ said Mortarelli. “Everybody likes Jack. He’s a great kid; a hard worker.’’
Utilized all over the defensive backfield, Turner racked up roughly 80 yards in returns on Friday. His position coach, Rodney Spinazzola, “was joking with me that it was all about the coaching,’’ said Turner.
“Rodney's asking for a raise,’’ Mortarelli said with a laugh. Turner hopes to attend University of Massachusetts Amherst. Wherever he winds up, he will never forget the Needham game. No pick-sixes, but five picks is a pretty good night.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.