Coaching Change

Gilbert named Associate Coach of Wabash Football

Will spend '24 season as DC before taking over for Don Morel in '25


 Wabash College alumnus and standout high school football coach Jake Gilbert ’98 will join the College’s football coaching staff as defensive coordinator for the 2024 season. Thereafter, Gilbert will take over for Don Morel as the head coach in 2025, ensuring a smooth transition for the next chapter of this storied football program, director of athletics Matt Tanney announced Monday.

Gilbert was the head football coach at Westfield High School (Indiana), where he has posted a record of 103-55 in 13 seasons since 2011, including a 43-10 mark (.811) over the last four seasons. Along the way, Gilbert’s Shamrocks claimed three Hoosier Crossroads Conference (HCC) titles, made eight state playoff appearances, and won the 2016 Class 5A state championship. Thirty-six of his players earned all-state honors and 43 were named academic all-state.

“My purpose is to love, lead, and have a positive impact on others,” said Gilbert. “This opportunity allows me to give back to the place that taught me how to live that way. I’ve been hungry for a new challenge, and I’m honored that Coach Morel, Matt Tanney, and President Scott Feller consider me worthy to work alongside them. We have a shared vision of fulfilling the special mission of the College.”

On the field, Gilbert’s success has led to a trophy case full of honors. His accolades include being named HCC Coach of the Year three times (2013, 2020, and 2021), the Indiana Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year twice (2013 and 2016), and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Indiana Coach of the Year in 2017. Gilbert was selected to coach in the Indiana All-Star game in 2014 and 2024. He has served as president, vice president, and director of the Indiana Football Coaches Association.

He was twice the Midwest winner and national finalist for the American Football Coaches Association Power of Influence Award (2020 and 2021), which honors coaches for the positive impact they have on their team, as well as the legacy they leave with the school and surrounding community.

Gilbert is actively involved in the lives of his students and in the Westfield community. He created a freshman mentoring program for the Life Ready Initiative at WHS. He served on the City Council and was a board member of the Heart and Soul Free Clinic from 2020-23. Gilbert was president of the Wellbeing Coalition of Westfield, an organization that exists to address community well-being issues through a collaborative approach. He was named the Westfield Community Volunteer of the Year in 2023.

From 2006-10, Gilbert served as an assistant coach at Wabash, handling offensive line duties in 2006-07 and serving as the defensive coordinator from 2008-10. In that span, the Little Giants posted a 46-10 (.821) record with three NCAA Division III Playoff appearances.

Gilbert was the head coach at North Montgomery High School in Crawfordsville for six seasons beginning in 2001. While there, four of his players earned all-state accolades, while 10 garnered academic all-state honors.

He got his start in coaching at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis under legendary coach Dick Dullaghan, where he served as an assistant coach for two seasons during which time the Giants won 26 games and captured the Class 5A state championship (1999).

Gilbert graduated from Wabash in 1998 with a degree in history and earned a master’s degree in education from Purdue University in 1998. He and his wife, Christina, have three sons, Jackson, Logan, and Tyson.

“Jake is an outstanding coach and I have complete confidence that he will be an excellent defensive coordinator next season,” said Morel. “He had a fantastic head coaching career at Westfield with a state championship to his credit and he knows every high school coach in the state. We’re going to continue to do things the right way by recruiting the absolute best scholar-athletes.”

Entering his eighth season as the Wabash head coach, Morel has amassed a 53-18 record to go with two North Coast Athletic Conference championships and two NCAA Division III Playoff appearances. He is a two-time NCAC Coach of the Year (2018 and 2019). Prior to being named the head coach in 2016, he served as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2012-15. In his tenure at Wabash, Morel has coached 110 all-conference performers, 28 all-region selections, seven academic All-Americans, six All-Americans, and four conference players of the year.

Known for prolific offenses, Morel’s teams averaged more than 35 points per game in seven different seasons and more than 400 yards of total offense per game in nine seasons. His 2022 squad ranked second nationally with an average of 535.5 yards of total offense per game and led all of NCAA Division III with an average of 363.5 passing yards per game.

He is one of only two coaches in NCAC history to coach a three-time winner of the Mike Gregory Award, given to the league’s offensive player of the year.

Morel is the fifth winningest coach in school history, while his winning percentage ranks fourth.

“With Coach Morel and Coach Gilbert, Wabash is fortunate to have leadership of the football program with an unwavering commitment to its present and long-term success,” said Tanney. “It's an exciting day to welcome Coach Gilbert back to campus. His on-field success, combined with his passion for preparing men for life after football, is a superb match for our athletics program. In a program with consistently high aspirations, Coach Morel sustained a winning tradition for eight years and contributed much to the life of the College. I look forward to partnering with both Don and Jake to support our scholar-athletes’ pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.”