It was eight years ago when Tyler Schilhabel's spinal cord was severely injured, leaving the then-starting quarterback at Independence paralyzed.

Now, Schilhabel will be back on the sidelines for the Falcons beginning this fall as the next head coach of the Independence football program.

“As soon as I heard there was a vacancy for the head job I reached out to (Independence athletic director) Derek LaRosa and asked him what the process was to apply for the job,” Schilhabel said.

A few days later Schilhabel drove to Bakersfield from Salt Lake City, where he has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Utah, and interviewed. On Thursday, LaRosa announced that Schilhabel was the Falcons’ new coach.

“I am very excited to have Tyler coming back to our Independence family," LaRosa said in an email announcement. "He is a supreme role model and positive example for our student-athletes and displays the leadership qualities, positive attitude and passion for football that we are looking for at Independence High School."

Schilhabel was Independence’s starting quarterback as a junior when he was paralyzed from the chest down from an off-road vehicle accident at Oceano Dunes in September 2010.

Despite the injury, he never lost his passion for football or his school.

“I always had strong ties to Independence from being a player and the way the administration and faculty treated me after my accident and helped me be successful,” Schilhabel said.

That passion for football, and being involved in the game, is what drives Schilhabel more than anything else.

“I had a quick realization my first time without football, my first year of college at Boise State, that I was miserable,” Schilhabel said. “I knew I didn’t want to be away from the game and made a conscious effort to stay involved.”

Schilhabel went on to get his degree from Utah Valley — in political science with an emphasis on American government — and found himself back on the sidelines for the Falcons.

“When I was doing an internship for Congressman McCarthy (2015) I was an assistant coach for quarterbacks and after I graduated (2016) I did the same thing.”

Then it was off to the University of Utah where he took a position as a recruiting assistant for the Utes, which morphed into being special teams coach.

“The last year and half was all special teams work,” Schilhabel said. “Meeting, diagrams, films, scouting reports for the opponents, special team drills …”

But now it’s all about high school football and being the head man.

“I’ll be heading back to Bakersfield on Monday, meeting with the team on Tuesday afternoon and we’ll hit the ground running June 4 for summer practices,” he said.

Mike Griffith can be reached at 661 395-7390. Follow him on Twitter at @mikegriffith54. 

(10) comments


This is awesome. Tyler is back in control of the Independence high school football team. Last time he was in control, he led Independence to a huge, upset win over Clovis North. I remember sitting in my garage and listening to game on radio. Next day, I remember seeing news he was paralyzed in ATV accident at beach. It truly broke my heart and affected me. Brings back emotion recalling all that. Anyway, that team had some special things in store that were never realized. As coach of Independence, where he belongs, I believe he will continue leading them to huge, exciting wins. Have never met Tyler, but have several close mutual friends through church. From what I know about him, no one will work harder. He is a stud and a winner. He’s who I’d want leading my team. He also has a good heart and will make a difference in all the student-athletes he will coach in his long career. Go Indy!


Clovis North? How do they typically compare with Clovis West/East and Buchanan? I didn’t realize there was a Clovis North high school. Maybe it is a newer school (last 10-12 years) ? I do know know a couple of those Clovis schools could put on a good whoopin back in the earlier 2000’s.


It is incredible to see that he is not letting his physical limitations stop him. He is an example of a go-getter and Independence will be grateful for this choice and the impact he has on these players.


Wonderful news. Coach Schilhabel will not only be an exceptional football coach ... he will be an inspiration to his team as well as to his community. I’m a Driller ... and Once a Driller ...Always a Driller ... but I’m going to follow The Independence football team and root for Coach Schilhabel and The Falcons.
Congratulations Coach .


This guy is unstoppable! If he can pass on his passion for life, and never give up attitude to his students. Independence and Bakersfield are lucky to have him. Congrats Tyler keep up the good work. You’re an inspiration.


Independence is lucky to have Tyler as their new coach! He was be a mentor to the students he coaches. I look forward to seeing the positive impact he has on the community.


I’ve spent some time around Tyler while he lived in Utah and have to say that this is a fantastic hire. He’s able to relate to players beautifully and has refined his coaching ability under the tutelage of one of Pac12’s best coaches. I’m convinced several years from now, independence will look back and know that they knocked it outta the park on this one!


Wow! I love this story! He has the passion to take their program far...Go Tyler!


I am friends with one of Tyler’s brothers. Over the last few years, Ive spent some time with Tyler watching football, playing golf (he’s better than you or I. I’ll put $50 on it) etc. With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily say I know Tyler really well; but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a great impact on my life. Each of those times with Tyler, I’ve gone home that night with more motivation. I start thinking more positively, I start looking at the bigger picture. Independence, you just got yourself a winner, a champion. He will have a life changing impact on the high school kids and faculty he works with. He gets the most out of people and it will be neat to see the teamwork at Independence reaching new heights. Give him a couple years and he will be very successful, just like anything else he’s done. Tyler Schilhabel has no limits.


Please do more stories about people like this and less about politics. This kid is a winner. Plus politics is talk of the lower classes.

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