EATON — Friday night the high school football season kicks off in Preble County and around the state.
At Eaton, the opening night may be a bit more special than most opening nights.
This season marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Eagles, who finished with a 5-4-1 record and gave the school some added prestige in the Southwestern Buckeye League after several years of finishing near the bottom.
One of the keys to that season was a first-year head coach by the name of Jack Harbaugh.
Harbaugh only spent two seasons coaching the Eagles but he left a lasting impression on the young men he coached.
The season before, Northmont beat the Eaton team 60-6 and the year Harbaugh arrived, the Eagles battled to a 6-6 tie said John Tuggle, a member of the 1964 team, who helped organize this Friday’s event. The team will be honored on the field prior to kickoff.
“They were the Number One team in the Dayton area,” Tuggle said. “We played them here and tied them 6 to 6, which was Jack’s best victory … and Northmont’s coach said that was his worst loss. It was great. Basically, we were just a bunch of average athletes who he (Harbaugh) made much better.”
Harbaugh will return to the school, along with Sam Ridder, a former assistant under Harbaugh and later the head coach of the Eagles, as the team will celebrate its 50 year reunion. Other assistants Moe Ankney and Ron Eaton will not be able to attend due to other commitments.
The Harbaugh name has been one of the most well-known in the coaching ranks over the past several years, with Jack’s sons John and Jim both having successful careers coaching in the National Football League, including facing each other in the Super Bowl a few years back.
Tuggle said those who are planning on returning are excited.
“Guys are excited. It’s fun. It’s 50 years,” Tuggle said. “It’s really nice because everyone can tell you about Park Avenue (Field) where they made an interception. Where they caught the touchdown pass. They can show you on the field. You have those memories. It should be a lot of fun.”
Tuggle said he appreciates all the cooperation of the school administrators who are helping with the planning process.
“Everybody has been super with this,” Tuggle said.
Kick-off on Friday is at 7 p.m., against Greenville.