Keith Gille, who led the Yuma Indians to the Class 1A 2009 state championship, passed away earlier this week.
He had been in the hospital for about one week prior to his passing. He leaves behind his wife, Jeanette. Details of when a service will be held were not available at press time.
Coach Gille had been in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the past few years teaching English and serving as an assistant coach on Judson Hall’s Bearcats football team.
Hall is a YHS graduate and was an assistant to Gille during the 2009 championship season.
“He was just positive all the time,” Hall said. “He had a unique way to push kids and get the most out of them, not just in football but in the classroom as well.”
Coach Gille enjoyed a great five-year run at YHS, while having a great impact on his players, students, and assistant coaches. He will be remembered for significantly building a program that was struggling prior to his arrival. His Yuma teams went a combined 35-18, including 29-6 over his last three seasons. That stretch included three straight playoff trips, advancing to the semifinals in 2008 before winning it all in 2009.
The Indians had a 16-game winning streak under Gille, stretching three games into the 2010 season.
His teams will be remembered for their physicality and for his double-wing offense.
Two of the most memorable games in YHS football history occurred in 2009, both against at Akron. The first came in the regular-season finale when the Indians embarked on “The Drive” in the final minutes, ending Akron’s lengthy winning streak.
An iconic picture of Gille celebrating after the winning touchdown appeared the next day in The Denver Post.
The Indians returned a month later to Akron for the state championship game, immortalized by the defense coming up with “The Stop” at the goal line to preserve Yuma’s first football state championship in 47 years. The program has not won one since.
Gille resigned from Yuma after the 2010-11 school year, returning to Alameda, where he previously had coached and taught. He had other jobs through the years before ending up in Scottsbluff with Hall.
He reunited with former players and coaches when he returned to Yuma during the 2019 season to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the championship season.
Hall shared that the front room of Keith and Jeanette’s house in Scottsbluff is adorned with memorabilia from their time in Yuma.
“I know the Yuma community was a big part of their lives,” Hall said.