First & Goal
Football Coaching Legend George Gilbert Takes Over at Taylor High School
Photographer / Jim Hunt
To say George Gilbert, the new head football coach at Taylor High School, has a lot of experience coaching different sports and teams, would be an understatement.
He has spent 40 years coaching, 36 of them as a head coach.
Before he came to Taylor High School, he coached at Tri-Central High School where he worked hard to build a successful football program.
Before Gilbert arrived at Tri-Central in 2009, the team’s record during their first 38 years was 81-288. The team only had five winning seasons.
Gilbert turned things around dramatically during his eight years as head coach with Tri-Central. The team’s record with Gilbert coaching was 62-40.
During his career, he has also coached at Wayne Trace High School in Ohio, Pioneer High School in Indiana, and Clinton Central High Schools in Indiana.
According to the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, Gilbert has a total coaching record of 215 wins, 163 losses and four ties. He is currently 16th on the active coaching list, while 50th on the all-time coaching list.
He has had 20 winning seasons in his career, eight conference championships, and five sectional championships. He has won one Regional Championship, one Semi-State, and one State Championship [2013 Class A].
Gilbert also coached wrestling for 25 years, with 10 years as a head coach. He was also a track coach for 20 years.
Gilbert was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
Gilbert is also the author of the book, “Team of One, We Believe,” the story of the five-year struggle of the Tri-Central football program and its eventual state championship.
Direction & Leadership
During his years with Tri-Central, Gilbert stressed direction and leadership.
He says, at first, the community and players did not buy into his program.
“My job focused on direction and leadership,” Gilbert says. “I put together an outstanding coaching staff that was very talented, and gradually, the boys and community bought in. It was a collective success story of an outstanding administration and board of education. There were also parents that wanted to see Tri-Central become better and an outstanding group of coaches who each had a vested interest in leadership. I directed the process but all the credit goes to the administration, community, coaches and players. Winning does not happen unless this process takes place.”
Gilbert is ready for new challenges at Taylor High School.
“I have never been a coach to walk into an established program with lots of available money and a large group of student-athletes to coach,” Gilbert says. “Every school that I have been at has been a struggle early on. Taylor is no different, but like Tri-Central, I will not be in the building and that makes it even more difficult. The difficulty will be getting the boys and parents to buy into a different direction and give me a chance.”
Gilbert is ready to overcome those difficulties.
“I have coached against Taylor, (as I had coached against Tri-Central,) and there may be some clouded ideas as to who I am, and what I am about,” he says. “This can create more roadblocks in trying to get the program organized. So I will rely on those coming out to do what is necessary to build the program.”
Gilbert adds that he “has never had a large number of boys leave football once they start in the program and usually our numbers will go up. I believe, if the boys give the program and coaching staff a chance, they will get better and become more competitive. I have been fortunate to recruit an outstanding staff, with several coaches that have been with me for many years. Plus, I feel fortunate to have one coach stay on from the previous staff to give the staff the continuity to move in a positive direction.”
When asked about his goals for the season, Gilbert says, “First, I have enough boys to play competitively. I do not believe it worthy of a coach to come into a school and offer false promises. Teams that I have coached usually get better throughout the season and that will be our objective. Taylor has one of the most outstanding football facilities in Class A football. The community has worked hard at creating an incredible venue, now the program needs to move in a positive direction.”
Gilbert has already met the players.
“I have met around 20 boys that have said they plan to play,” Gilbert says. “I hope so. I have seen five boys regularly during the summer. Those five boys I have worked with this summer have worked hard and have made great strides toward preparing for the season. Unfortunately, football is a sport where 11 play at one time, and I am hopeful the boys will show up for the start of football and we can begin the process.
“We will be behind most of the schools we play, as we have not been able to put a team together this summer to begin learning our program offense and defense. If the boys show up and have good attendance, the program will develop. I just need boys to buy in and give us a chance.”