August 27, 2007

Former VSU Assistant Football Coach Passes

Former VSU Assistant Football Coach Passes

August 27, 2007

BALTIMORE -- The death of a Baltimore city football coach saddened the return to school for students at Baltimore's Dunbar High School on Monday.

Ben Eaton, head coach at Dunbar and a former assistant football coach at Virginia State University, passed away on Monday at the age of 58.

On Monday, while performing rehab exercises for recent back surgery, Easton collapsed and was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital where he died, officials said.=20

Described as a gentle giant, Eaton was a longtime fixture throughout the community.

Friends and students close to Eaton said he got the absolute best of his players, never bemoaning a lack of resources or the small size of his team. They said he created a positive influence in his athletes' lives.

Many said it was that philosophy that created a football program that annually battled for championships. Dunbar won the state championship in 2006 -- Eaton's last season coaching.

"Ben Eaton was one of the mainstays in our community. He was a mentor and a family man -- just a super guy," said city athletics Director Bob Wade.

Eaton, a 1966 Douglass High and 1974 Morgan State grad, spent nine seasons as Dunbar's head coach, also leading the Poets to a state title in 2004.

Prior to taking over as head coach in 1998, he was the team's offensive line coach under Stanley Mitchell and was part of state championship seasons in 1994 and 1995.

Eaton, who was named The Baltimore Sun's Metro Coach of the Year in 2004, celebrated his 58th birthday on Dec. 9 by guiding the Dunbar Poets to a 38-23 win over Fort Hill to capture the program's fourth state title this past winter.=20

He played four seasons as an offensive lineman at Morgan State, earning All-Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference honors in his senior year.

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