At the same time, Eaton was extremely popular with his fellow coaches, in part because he went out of his way to spread the seeds of his success. He made it a point to let other Baltimore City football teams use Dunbar's weight room during the summer, during the year, and even before games, when the Poets had one of the only weight rooms in the city.

"If I've got it, you've got it; that's what I'm all about," Eaton told The Sun in 2006.

DuVall said Eaton would be remembered as a father figure, a no-nonsense disciplinarian who molded young boys into men.

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"He was the pied piper with those kids in Baltimore, because you knew whatever he said, it was him being honest. It was the truth," DuVall said. "It was never about Ben. It was always about those kids. ... He was a man's man, a John Wayne character who was as tough as can be, but he was good to everyone. I never heard him curse the entire time I knew him. God is getting a heck of a football coach."
Ben Eaton 1948-2007

Most recent job: Dunbar football coach, assistant athletic director, physical education instructor

Coaching record: 77-30 (.720), nine seasons

State titles as head coach: 2004, 2006

State titles as assistant coach: 1994, 1995, under Stanley Mitchell

High school: Graduated from Douglass in 1966

College: Graduated from Morgan State in 1974 as all-conference offensive lineman under coach Earl Banks; played at Morgan with future NFL players Bob Wade, Ray Chester and Frenchy Fuqua

Family: Wife, Sandra, and son, Ben Eaton Jr., who graduated from Gilman last year as The Sun's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year and now plays at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy