Football: 5 things to know about new West Forsyth head coach Shawn Cahill
West Forsyth announced former Lanier offensive coordinator Shawn Cahill as its new head football coach on Wednesday.
Cahill had been at Lanier since 2011, including the past three seasons as offensive coordinator during which the Longhorns went 28-3 and won region championships in 2014 and 2015.
Cahill might have experienced his most success out of state, when he was offensive coordinator for Harvey High School in North Dakota that went 23-3 with two state championship appearances between 1996-97.
Cahill has coached 15 years in all, including stops at Duluth (2008-10), Newton (2006-07) and Santa Margarita (1994-95) in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Cahill replaces Adam Clack, who left to become head coach at Milton after three seasons in charge at West.
Here are five things to know about Cahill:
His dad coached football for 41 years
Bill Cahill went 215-147 between Harvey and Jamestown high schools in central North Dakota. Shawn played for his dad, then returned to Harvey to join his dad’s staff after an accomplished playing career at North Dakota State and then a brief stint coaching in California.
Shawn’s return was memorable; Harvey went to back-to-back state championships.
But after two years, Shawn took some time away from football.
“I wanted to just go and be away from football and … find out if I really loved the game of if that’s just all I ever knew,” Shawn said.
Two years later, Shawn was coaching little league football.
“I just realized I’m fighting something that I don’t need to fight because this is what I love to do and what I should be doing,” Shawn said.
He played one season of football in Europe
Cahill played receiver on two national championship teams at NDSU. He was helping to coach at his alma mater in the spring when a graduate assistant asked him if he’d be interested in playing in Europe.
“Two weeks later, I had to get a passport expressed, and I was on a plane to Finland,” Cahill said.
Cahill played just one season, but it was an eventful one. The team played above the Arctic circle. He was one of just two American players on the team, and they were pretty easy to pick out – the team made them wear a letter ‘A’ sticker on their helmet.
Cahill joined the team as a receiver, but he wound up also contributing at defensive back, running back, quarterback, even punter.
“I got beat up more in that short season than I did in five years playing college football,” Cahill said.
But looking back, it was worth it.
“It was just a cultural thing,” Cahill said. “I got to see that football is not life everywhere.”
He’d visited Forsyth two weeks before applying
Cahill said he was happy at Lanier. The Longhorns just made the state playoffs for the fourth straight season. He enjoyed working with head coach Korey Mobbs’ staff and the school’s administration.
But two weeks before Clack resigned at West, Cahill and his family came to the west Forsyth area to have some family pictures taken. While they drove around, Cahill’s wife made some remarks about the appeal of the county.
“She made a comment that if this job ever opens up, I could you see applying for this one,” Cahill said.
So, when it opened up, he did.
“It kind of fell in to the right place at the right time,” Cahill said.
He’s not worried about Denmark opening
The county’s next high school is slated to open for the 2018-19 school year, and it’s expected to affect enrollment at Lambert, South Forsyth and West Forsyth.
Cahill did his research. With the county’s consistent population growth, he doesn’t think it will have a long-term effect on West’s competitiveness.
“The kids are going to be back in here,” Cahill said. “Eventually we’ll fill it back up again.”
He wants West to be ‘relevant’
The Wolverines have been the most consistent state playoff team in the county this decade, reaching the postseason in six of the past seven years under Frank Hepler and then Clack.
Cahill wants to keep it that way.
“My goal for this program is to be relevant in the state and have teams around when they talk about us say, ‘That’s a tough, physical team and they’ll compete with ya,’” Cahill said. “If we can do those kinds of things, I’m going to be happy.”