Tae Turner is glad he followed through with his decision to play football for Lakeview Academy, even though it wasn’t his first sport or an automatic decision when he enrolled last year from Chattahoochee High.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior running back was told the opportunity to make a splash for the Lions football program was on the table, after pursuing his main passion of basketball with the Lions when he moved back to his hometown of Gainesville from the Class AAAAAA school in North Fulton.
On Friday, Turner rushed for five touchdowns and 240 yards, guiding the Lions (1-3, 1-1 Region 8-A) to a 38-3 win against Providence Christian, their first region victory in school history.
“Hopefully, he’s got a few more games like that in him,” said Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn.
Turner is a dynamic running back, providing the speed to break away and the toughness to run through defenders. He didn’t even know the yardage he put up in the game, until his grandmother pointed it out to him in Saturday’s newspaper.
The first-year Lakeview running back is excited to be a part of a burgeoning program, after playing mostly in a special teams capacity previously at Chattahoochee.
“Even though I’m not a senior, I feel like I can bring leadership and excitement to the team,” said Turner, who plays point guard on the basketball court. “I really enjoy it here because the guys on this team give it their all.”
Turner had a feeling it was going to be a big night. The night leading into game day, he told his father, Roscoe, that he was trying to score three touchdowns.
After shaking off a couple of defenders and bursting through the line for a 30-yard score, Turner did just that as Lakeview padded its lead against Providence.
When Turner scored, he said he flashed three fingers to his father to let him know he reached his goal, not knowing yet he was going to score twice more. Gruhn, who first noticed Turner’s athletic ability on the basketball court, said Turner also had a 55-yard scoring run behind a line of good blocking.
“I knew when I told my dad I was going to try for three touchdowns, I knew I had to do it for him,” Turner said.
His 240-yard performance was especially meaningful with about 10 family members, including his parents, grandmother, uncle and four siblings in the bleachers watching in Gainesville. Turner said, as a running back, he has the vision to spot the only running lane and confidence to take on would-be tacklers.
“It’s really a blessing to have a game like that,” Turner said. “I really like just being able to help our team be the best we can be.”
Turner was originally on the fence about football when he came to Lakeview Academy. He said the players and coaches made him feel welcomed into the football program as the new guy when he decided in the spring that he was going to suit up in the fall.
The explosive running back is focused on the possibilities that exist as the Lions pursue their first playoff berth in school history. He’d also like to have another 200-yard performance.
“Tae has a really good spirit and is a good team guy,” Gruhn said.