The last time Ryan Adams stepped on R. Basil Rutter Field, he made history.
Adams broke a 48-year-old record and cemented his place in Athens coaching history. The man’s record he broke was Don Eskey, who compiled a record of 78-45-3 coaching the Bulldogs from 1957-1970. Eskey was a loving father, devout Christian and a cornerstone of the Athens community all the way up until his death in 2014.
Eskey was born Aug. 4, 1928, in Duncan Falls, Ohio. After graduating from Philo in 1946, he joined and served in the Navy aboard the USS Providence for two years. Upon returning home, he attended and graduated from Ohio University, where he played football for the Bobcats.
He returned to Athens in 1957 where he taught physical education and health at the high school. When he wasn’t in the classroom, he was on the field coaching; Eskey coached track, but his claim to fame was on the gridiron.
The Bulldogs were a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League powerhouse under Eskey. He led the Bulldogs to three conference championships at the height of his helm coming in 1965, when the Bulldogs went undefeated and were ranked ninth in the state. Eskey won SEOAL coach of the year four times throughout his career and was inducted into the Athens Hall of Fame in 1992.
After Eskey hung up his whistle, he still visited practice often to have a relationship with players, one in particular who went on to break all his records.
“For the first six or seven years that I coached, Coach Eskey would pop up at practice,” Adams said. “We’d sit in the office from time to time and have conversations. I have some really old coaching books from him that he gave me.”
“He was certainly a top notch guy, a high character guy and certainly I have a lot of respect for him.”
While Eskey dedicated much of his of life to football, he was just as dedicated to his faith. He spent 50 years as a member of The First Presbyterian Church of Athens serving on the Board of Deacons.
“I was glad to get to know him,” Reverend Robert Martin of the First Presbyterian Church said.
Eskey may be gone, but his legacy in Athens will live on forever. The east end zone at R. Basil Rutter Field was named the Eskey end zone in 2005, and an annual scholarship for a senior who has played on the football team was named in his honor.
“He was certainly a top notch guy, a high character guy and certainly I have a lot of respect for him,” Adams said.