Dayton gets ‘Eck’ of a coach
The Dayton Dust Devils didn’t have far to go to find their new varsity football head coach.
Tom Eck, 51, a former assistant coach at Santa Barbara High School and currently a custodian at the school, has been tabbed to replace Rob Turner, who resigned at the end of the 2014 season.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Eck said in a phone interview Friday night. “I’m working on trying to fill out my staff. I’ve been talking to coach Turner and picking coach (Rick) Walker’s brain. I’m probably going to have my first meeting with players on Monday.”
Eck isn’t exactly a stranger to the program. He was hired at Dayton last fall two weeks after the school year started.
“I introduced myself to coach Turner, told him I had 20-plus years of coaching football (youth and high school), and if there was anything I could do. He took my e-mail address and got me on Hudl (a digital film program).
“At 3 a.m. I was breaking down film, and I would write a 2 or 3-page report by Sunday afternoon. That’s how I got started. I peeked in on film study a few times and would volunteer things. I’ve been able to get to know a lot of the boys because of my job on campus.”
One of Eck’s first projects is to get freshman football back at Dayton. The Dust Devils have had just JV and varsity for at least the past 12 years. It’s tough to build the program when you don’t have numbers, and Eck wants to build a program. Expect him to be visible in the community selling football.
“I want to get involved with the youth programs. When I coached youth football in Sonora, we ran the same stuff they were running at the high school.”
Dayton was senior laded a year ago, so this year’s team will be very inexperienced. Eck got a glimpse of what the program was all about while watching film last fall.
“When I was breaking down film, I had no idea whether they were up or down,” he said. “The team had an innate motor that went all the time. I’m so excited about this.”
It was approximately 20 years ago when Eck got involved in the game back in Santa Ynez, a town in Southern California.
“I had two daughters and I picked them up from cheer practice,” Eck said. “I saw a coach out on the field, and he was pulling his hair out. I started working with that team, and that’s how I got involved in coaching.”
In the mid-2000s, Eck and his family moved to Sonora, Calif. He started coaching a junior football team.
“We were real successful, and I caught the eye of the offensive coordinator, and he invited me to join the staff at the high school,” Eck said. “I coached freshman football, mainly working with the offensive and defensive line. I played offensive line at Air Force many, many years ago.”
In 2010, Eck and his family moved to Santa Barbara. He spent one year coaching freshman football, and then moved to the varsity staff where he spent three years coaching linemen.