INDIANAPOLIS — As executive director of the Indiana Football Coaches Association, Bob Gaddis needed a second vice president a couple of years ago.
Gaddis’ Columbus East team had been scrimmaging against Westfield at a summer camp and thought the Shamrocks had an up-and-coming coach who might be a good fit for the IFCA spot. So he asked Jake Gilbert to run for the position.
Gilbert won the election, and since then, he and Gaddis have been working together quite a bit in the offseason. Saturday night, however, they’ll be on opposite sidelines on the state’s biggest stage when their teams meet in the Class 5A state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I’ve gotten to know him a lot better since he’s become involved with that,” Gaddis said at Monday morning’s press conference at Lucas Oil. “He’s a good coach and a good man. He’s a well-rounded guy. He does it the right way.”
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Both coaches are back in the state finals for the second time. Gaddis led the Olympians to the Class 4A title in 2013.
That same year, Westfield fell to Cathedral in the 5A championship game.
“We were totally flying in the dark last time,” Gilbert said. “It was brand new for all of us, and we had a lot of catching up to do because our opponent then had been here several years in a row. We know a little more what to expect and how to prepare our players.”
While Gaddis is in his 38th year as a head coach and his 16th at East, Gilbert is only in his 12th overall and sixth at Westfield. But both have shown an ability to play to their teams’ strengths.
When Gaddis had 2011 Indiana Mr. Football Gunner Kiel at quarterback, he ran a spread offense. When Gilbert had Nick Ferrer in 2013, they threw it quite a bit.
Now, both teams are run-heavy offenses. Both completed only one pass in their semistate wins on Friday.
“I think that their team is very similar to our team,” Gaddis said. “So I think it’s going to be a tremendous matchup.”
Both Gaddis and Gilbert also have been head coaches in the annual North-South All-Star Classic. Gilbert led the South in 2014, and one of his assistants was East offensive line coach David Miller.
In his role with the IFCA, which sponsors the game, Gaddis helped pick Gilbert as the South coach.
“I think he’s a great guy and a fantastic football coach, clearly one of the best coaches in Indiana,” Gilbert said.
Tickets for Columbus East’s state finals football game Saturday are on sale this morning at the high school.
Each ticket is $15, and East gets $1 for every presale ticket sold at the school. Kids 5-and-under are free.
East will sell tickets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, Wednesday and Friday in the athletics office. Tickets also will be available at home girls basketball games from 5 to 8 p.m. today and 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Fans purchasing tickets in the athletics office should enter the main school doors facing Marr Road. Those purchasing tickets at the girls basketball games should go to the main athletics entrance on the south side of the school.
The Olympians (13-1) will play Westfield (11-2) in the Class 5A state title game at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.