While Jake Gilbert might be leaving to take the head football coaching job at Westfield High School, Montgomery County always will be home to the Wabash College graduate and former North Montgomery football coach.
Montgomery County is where Gilbert started his coaching career, taking over at North Montgomery at 24 years old. Montgomery County also is where he landed his first college coaching job. After compiling a 30-36 record in his six seasons at North, Gilbert returned to his alma mater and served as the offensive line coach at Wabash for two seasons and defensive coordinator for the Little Giants the last three seasons.
Gilbert and his wife, Christina, raised all three of their sons — Logan, Jackson and Tyson — in Crawfordsville.
“This is where we call home, because we have been living here for the last 11 years and I even went to college here before that,” said Gilbert, who was officially hired at Westfield during a board meeting last week. “This is just been a very special place and we are just so grateful for the way that we have been treated here. My life really took off when I got here.”
While he will miss Montgomery County, Gilbert is excited about the opportunity to continue to fulfill his dream of running his own football program. Westfield, a 5A football program that competes in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference and is in the same sectional as Camel, Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers, is the only school Gilbert applied at.
“It’s a 5A football school in a great area and the town has a really nice feel to it,” Gilbert said. “It’s a great place to live, which is great because Crawfordsville has been a great place for my family.”
Since being hired at Westfield, Gilbert has already started trying to lay the ground work down to turning around a program that has gone through three straight losing seasons.
He has been getting the schedules for all the spring and summer practices to his players. He also has been working on finalizing his assistant coaching staff.
Westfield finished last season 3-7, then went 4-6 and 1-9 the previous years to that. The Shamrocks last winning season was in 2007 when they finished 9-4.
“Their confidence level is not where it needs to be going up against those big schools,” Gilbert said. “We just have to give them the belief and confidence that they can win, because they are going to do it.”
During his time as defensive coordinator at Wabash, Gilbert in 2009 helped Wabash’s defense be ranked ninth in the nation against the run. The 2008 team also ranked among the top teams in the nation in rushing defense and total defense.
“It has just been my God-given dream to a head coach and run my own program, and now I have that opportunity again,” Gilbert said. “I never went to Wabash with the intention of staying there forever as an assistant coach. I went there to better myself and get me ready for my next head coaching opportunity.”
Westfield opens its 2011 season Aug. 19 against Harrison in West Lafayette.
Wabash has yet to name a defensive coordinator to replace Gilbert.