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At 6’4” tall and 240 pounds, Coach David Gilpin is quite an imposing figure as he paces back and forth along the sidelines at Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) football games and calls out instructions to his players – or offers a ref some constructive criticism for a questionable call. His size, his Hulk Hogan-like horseshoe mustache and his boisterous nature may make Gilpin seem a bit intimidating to some, but it is his unabated enthusiasm for the game of football and not his size that makes him stand out among his peers.
As a 22-year veteran of teaching and coaching, all at Mission schools, Gilpin has touched the lives of thousands of young people. Entering his fourth year as the athletic coordinator and head football coach at VMHS, Gilpin is a strong believer in turning small lessons into life lessons.
“I believe very much that we are here to make these young men not just better football players, but we want to see them become better sons, better brothers, better men, better husbands, better fathers and better employees,” said Gilpin. “This is something that I talk about with my coaches all the time. The lessons that we are teaching them in football help us to achieve that goal. Whether it’s just about being on time, whether it’s just about saying yes sir and no sir, whether it’s just about picking up a water bottle that you see in the hall instead of walking past it, teaching those kinds of small lessons is going to help us achieve those goals.”
A 1984 graduate of Mission High School, Gilpin played football for the Eagles under Coach Marcy de la Fuente. After graduating from the University of North Texas, Gilpin returned to Mission in 1990 to coach the seventh grade B football team at Mission Junior High School. Two years later Gilpin was promoted to his alma mater.
“Coach Detmer was the head football coach at the time and he promoted me to the high school,” said Gilpin. “I coached one year of sophomore ball before Detmer promoted me to the varsity program. I coached the defensive line for four years and the offensive line for one year under Coach Detmer.”
Gilpin remained at Mission High School an additional four years after Coach Detmer left, three under Coach Chris Cavazos and one under Coach Jim Dycus. In 2002, Gilpin made the move to the newly-opened Veterans Memorial High School.
“I came over with Bucky Rodriguez,” said Gilpin. He hired me over here and I spent two years with him. And then I stayed when Carlos Longoria came in. He retained me and I spent five years under him. And then when Carlos left I applied for and got the job of athletic coordinator and head football coach for the Patriots.”
Offensively, Gilpin relies on his offensive coordinator, and former Mission Eagle superstar quarterback, Lupe Rodriguez to make the Patriots offensive scheme a complete package.
“We are a traditional spread team in every sense of the word,” said Gilpin. “We consider ourselves to be multiple because we can do some things that are not traditional spread. We feel that we have a more complete package than some of the base spread offenses across the nation and across the state.”
Gilpin’s offensive strategy involves mixing thing up in order to keep defenses guessing.
“We are pretty diverse in what we do. We can get into two back sets. We can get a tight end to put his hand on the ground. We run lots of pre-snap motion. Our route running is pretty complex at times. So we feel that we have a real complete package when it comes to our offense.”
On defense, aggressiveness is the key to Gilpin’s strategy.
“Defensively we’re going to attack. Our philosophy is we’re going to be a pressure defense. We’re going to try to create turnovers and we’re not going to sit back and wait. That basically will be my philosophy as long as I coach,” said Gilpin.
When it comes to preparing his teams for success on the field, Gilpin believes in game planning for competition at the highest level.
“You can do certain things and be successful just in the Valley. Whether it’s running the ball or playing a base defense. But if we’re going to be successful upstate, which ultimately is our goal, I feel that we have to be able to compensate for the lack of size that we have as we get upstate.”
“Our kids are well coached in the Valley,” added Gilpin. “Our kids are tough in the Valley. Our kids are great football players in the Valley. Their technique is just as good as anywhere in the state, but we have to compensate for the difference in size by spreading the field out, by being fast and by attacking on defense.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.