Meske 40th at Webb

Seven state titles, 289 wins, building boys into men celebrated

KNOXVILLE — Dave Meske has been inspiring young student/athletes locally — even fifth- and sixth-graders — for almost 40 years.

A celebration of Meske’s enormous coaching success at Webb School of Knoxville — most notably his 38 seasons as Spartans high school varsity football head coach — was held Friday night, Oct. 21, during a halftime ceremony in the stadium bearing his name.

“I met Dave Meske when I was in middle school; I was a sixth-grader. We had a conversation, and I realized, ‘he’s all about taking care of the kids and making sure they’re successful — not only in football, but in life,” said Todd Kelly Jr., former Spartans star running back/defensive back (Class of 2014) who followed in his father’s footsteps as a Tennessee Volunteer (defensive back).

Kelly was one of more than 100 of Meske’s former players on hand to honor the retiring legend — having won 289 games and seven state championships in his 38 years as head coach — joined by his wife, Lyn Meske, and daughters, Devon Blake and Peighton Meske, along with other family members.

“It’s nice when you feel like you’ve had a relationship with your players,” Meske said.

“Going from Webb to Tennessee, that’s what prepared me, and that’s why I’ve been able to do everything that I’ve done: because of what Dave Meske has done,” said Kelly, who presented the coach with a framed jersey, “Meske 40,” on behalf of the ex-players and school officials.

“It was super to see people I hadn’t seen for a while,” said Meske, also a former track and field coach at the school who was hired as an assistant football coach, head wrestling coach and middle school teacher in late fall 1983.

His employment at Webb was influenced “by my military experience,” said the retired U.S. Army Reserves major who served in Desert Storm.

Pat Daley, all All-state offensive lineman, was a key member of Meske’s unbeaten 2010 state title team (Class of 2011) who also helped the Spartans win the 2009 state crown.

“I had an absolutely wonderful time learning from him,” Daley said. “Dave Meske meant so much to us as developing young gentlemen,” adding that attending this ceremony “is the least that we can do to pay him back.

“I know so much more about football and the Wing-T (offense) than I ever imaged I would thanks to Dave and his crew.”

“He’s been a tremendous leader for all the athletes for 40 years,” said Robby Strachan, a star fullback/linebacker/kicker who was a four-year starter from the 2010 through 2013 seasons. “We’re all out here — I brought the family — just to support his tremendous career.”

“I can’t tell you just how committed he was to young kids,” said Andrew Clark, an Honorable Mention All-state quarterback (Class of 1987) who, entering the 2022 Spartans season, held the all-time program record for passing yards in a single season — accomplished in 1986.

“My junior year I had a really bad knee injury and didn’t play my entire junior year,” he added. “When I got well enough to where I wanted to get back throwing, in January, coach met me and a bunch of receivers here at like 6:30 in the morning, two or three days a week, so I could throw and we could practice.

“He did that because he was dedicated to the kids here.”

“We’re just so appreciate of coach Meske and how he’s helped develop us into the men we are today,” said Graham Hunter, a tight end on Meske’s first state championship team in 1996 (Class of 1997).

“I started at Webb School in the fifth grade, and I can remember things coach Meske told me when I was 10 years old about leadership,” said Hal Bibee, an All-region quarterback on the 1996 team (Class of 1997) who went on to a successful baseball career as a Tennessee Vol. “Coach Meske has been instrumental in raising generations of men.”