West Shamokin football coach resigns
Just as West Shamokin's football program began to change for the better, its coach stepped down.
Josh Gilliland resigned Friday morning after four seasons in charge of the Wolves. Gilliland cited unspecified personal reasons but made clear he had a strong bond with West Shamokin, which ended a WPIAL-record 46-game losing streak and finished with its best record (3-7) since 2002.
“There were some different things I went through during and after the season, and I just felt that I didn't want to be a distraction in the offseason and things like that with some personal matters,” Gilliland said. “So I thought it'd be better for the program, for the team, for the school and for me to step down and walk away for right now.”
Gilliland had a 3-36 record as coach. The Wolves delivered him his first win at home against Riverview Sept. 14, when they won, 25-6, to end a losing streak that stretched back to 2007.
West Shamokin later defeated Leechburg and Allegheny-Clarion Valley to attain its highest win total since leaving District 9 and joining the WPIAL in 2004.
“I loved coaching football, and I loved coaching at West Shamokin,” Gilliland said. “I was very proud of what myself and my staff did with the program over the past four years.”
Gilliland met with his players shortly after he delivered his letter of resignation Friday. The team had only four seniors this season.
“There were definitely some looks of shock, but I reassured them that coach (Jon) McCullough and the staff would be in the weight room until the position is filled,” Gilliland said. “I wished them the best of luck and thanked them for working hard for me every day.”
Gilliland hopes McCullough, his defensive coordinator and top assistant, or one of the other staff members will ultimately fill the vacancy, that way West Shamokin will enjoy some continuity.
Athletic director Tom McClaine said the school likely will start seeking applicants after the holidays.
“We're looking to make a replacement as soon as possible because of the offseason training and the workouts,” McClaine said. “We appreciate (Gilliland's) time and commitment. He certainly worked hard all year round. … He got the program headed in a positive direction.”
Gilliland acknowledged that a return to football coaching is possible — just not next season.
“I love coaching football too much, and I love trying to help young men be better people on the field and off the field,” Gilliland said. “As for the upcoming season, I'm not going to be on anyone's sideline.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.