Former Turks starting quarterback Benny Prather was appointed as Zach Zehr’s replacement during the March school board meeting. Prather, a 2016 Tremont graduate, served as the junior varsity coach for three seasons while also assisting varsity quarterbacks and defensive backs.
Prather expressed his enthusiasm for taking over the program and noted his preference for coaching over playing. He credited his time under coaches Lou Wicks and Zehr for preparing him for this next step in his career.
Zehr’s six-year tenure as Tremont’s athletics director included 26 wins and two Class 2A playoff appearances, with an 8-3 season in 2021. Prather aims to combine the coaching styles he learned from Wicks and Zehr to build on Tremont football’s tradition.
Interestingly, Prather and Zehr’s paths crossed before coaching together. In 2015, Zehr led Arcola to the Class 1A state championship, defeating Stark County, the same team that ended Prather’s high school playing career.
Prather will keep a significant portion of Zehr’s coaching staff, including assistant coaches Scott Larango, Mitch Whightsil, Mike Rathbun, and JR Lester. Together, they will help Prather, a special education teacher at Tremont, navigate the competitive Heart of Illinois Conference.
Next season, the Heart of Illinois Conference and the Central Illinois Conference will merge into the Heart of Central Illinois Conference for football. Prather sees this change as potentially beneficial.
Defensive schemes will remain largely unchanged under Prather, with the Turks continuing to run a 4-4 or 4-3 defense.
Prather defines the success of the 2023 season through “retention” – keeping players engaged and enjoying the season, even if their win-loss record isn’t ideal. He seeks growth through practices and transitioning the program for future success.