"You don't replace a coach Welsh," Turner said after he was chosen by a unanimous vote of the school board. "He leaves a legacy that will stand."
Turner, who won a state championship in 2007 with Emanuel County Institute in Swainsboro, brings a 65-12 record as a head coach.
"Coach Turner believes in scoring points at every opportunity through a multiple set offense and a flex three defense," Superintendent Jim LeBrun said in his introduction. "His philosophy on the field is to 'win with character and cruelty.' "
Turner said he knows the challenge that awaits him in Thomson after Welsh's tenure, which included three state championships.
"It's a great honor to follow a coaching legend like Luther Welsh," he said. "I understand the expectations. I understand the tradition."
Turner also will be athletic director, as was Welsh. He said he hopes to be freed from his coaching and athletic director contract in Emanuel County soon so he can move to Thomson within a few weeks. He hopes to get an early start on football conditioning training and to plan summer camps, in addition to being athletic director for spring sports.
He said he has some recruits in mind as assistant coaches.
LeBrun and Principal Rudy Falana selected Turner from a field of more than 100 applicants.
Turner holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Georgia Southern University, and a specialist degree from Georgia College and State University.
He also has served as assistant coach and head wrestling coach at Screven County, assistant football and strength and conditioning coach and head track coach at Southeast Bulloch and Fitzgerald, and assistant football and strength and conditioning coordinator at Warner Robins.
Turner said he plans to instill values in his players that will serve them off the field, too.
"We've got to get kids educated," he said. "We've got to give them character. We've got to give them opportunities."