Jeff Turley optimistic about rebuild at Marina

Jeff Turley has a ways to go with his new Marina High football team, which has won just one league game in the last 10 seasons.

Jeff Turley, the defensive coordinator at Long Beach Poly the last 13 seasons, is in his first year as head coach at Marina High.

BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- Long Beach Poly is in the past for Jeff Turley. His not-so-distant past. Before he had enough time to break a sweat in his new digs, the Jackrabbits were in the present state for the first year Huntington Beach Marina head coach.

Turley spent 13 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Long Beach Poly as a part of a staff that guided the Jackrabbits to 12 Moore League championships, five CIF Southern Section titles, a Southern California Regional championship, and two state bowl berths.

Turley's run at Long Beach Poly ended once Raul Lara resigned at the end of last season and Antonio Pierce was hired.

Even more recent than his work with the Poly football program is his work with the Poly baseball program as an assistant coach in the spring. As a result of that obligation, Turley, who was named Marina's head coach in March, was wearing two hats and "behind the 8-ball" in getting things started at Marina, handling duties at both places until Poly's baseball season ended in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Last Saturday marked just the first time the Vikings had participated in a 7-on-7 competition under Turley -- a tournament held at Bellflower High School.

Not even halfway through the day, his Vikings were lined up against a team he was very familiar with -- Long Beach Poly.

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"I just had to laugh when I saw the bracket," Turley admitted. "I was like 'Wow.' I would have much rather this been at the end of the summer than right now when we had a little bit more time to install the whole defense and get guys figured out where they're going to be."  

Still, it provided Turley immediate answers about his team and he was pleased with his findings.

"We took some big strides," Turley said. "For what we did and the short amount of time that they've even been working on it, I'm pretty happy.  

"More and more of what the coaches and I are finding out (is) it's not the physical ability of the kids that are there, it's the mental because they've become accustomed to not winning. The student body at the school has been accustomed to them not winning."

That optimism is going to have to go a long way in order to turn around a Marina program that has won just one league game in the last 10 seasons. In 2014, Marina will enter Sunset League play with a 46-game league losing streak -- a streak that dates back to 2004. Marina was just 1-9 overall last season, continuing a theme of bottom dwelling looking up at the likes of Los Alamitos, Edison and even defending CIF Southern Section Southwest Division champion, Huntington Beach.

Keeping the optimism train rolling, Turley says there's only one direction the program can go. And that's up.