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Eatinger takes job at Norfolk State

August 18, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

Former Central Union and Southwest high schools football coach Jack Eatinger is back doing what he likes … coaching collegiate football.

After being a coach and teacher in the Central Union High School District for 13 years, Eatinger retired from teaching in California in March and went to work for an old friend at Norfolk State University in Virginia as an offensive line coach.

"I'm a football coach and I wanted to coach football," said Eatinger, who hadn't coached since Southwest High's 1998 campaign. "I'm doing strictly one thing over here, and that is coaching. I'm really enjoying myself over here. I've been here five months and it seems like five minutes."

Eatinger was called about moving to Norfolk by longtime friend Mo Forte, the team's head coach, over a year ago, but Eatinger wasn't ready to just get up and go. Eatinger was a physical education instructor and coach of the Southwest golf squad. Earlier this year he made his decision to head back to college football, where he coached for 30 years before his high school stint.

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In 1999 Norfolk State was in Division II of the NCAA but has since taken a step up to division IAA. The Spartans, who play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finished 3-8 last year in their first season in the tougher division, but Eatinger thinks the squad is acclimated and ready for success.

"It's great," said Eatinger, who works with guards and centers. "You're dealing with a different group of people at the collegiate level. Most of the kids are here on scholarships, so they want to play, and you're dealing with different levels of motivation and skill."

Eatinger enjoyed his time as a high school coach and had a lot of success. He was the Desert Valley League's coach of the year twice and won three league titles between head coaching duties at Southwest and Central, but he felt the collegiate game was always his true calling.

"I had a lot of great times at both Southwest and Central," said Eatinger. "I'm really proud of all my players that I had, but I was in the college game for so long before high school that it made high school difficult. It's kind of refreshing to get back to college football and away from all the nuances of the high school game.

"Instead of my high school kids getting looked at by the trainer, now I am because my neck hurts every day after looking up at my current players," Eatinger said jokingly.

The 60-something Eatinger says he's going to coach as long as he's having fun.

"I'm getting paid for a hobby," he added.

While Eatinger is far from the Imperial Valley, he and the NSU football team will be visiting the West Coast for a promotional game against Delaware State University. The MEAC contest will be played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Nov. 10.

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