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Football: Cahill surveys new domain in first spring as West's head coach
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West Forsyth first-year head football coach Shawn Cahill watches his team runs sprints during a spring practice. - photo by Brian Paglia

Shawn Cahill can sit back, look down at the gold helmets scattered around West Forsyth’s turf field and feel good about how things have gone so far in his tenure as the Wolverines’ head coach.

It’s been a little over a month since Cahill was named West’s head coach, replacing Adam Clack, who took the job at Milton. The job is Cahill’s first as a head coach in Georgia, and he takes a more hands-off approach to the granular operations of the team, leaving those tasks to his position coaches while focusing on the image and overall direction of the program, a heavy task in Class 7A.

And Cahill, most recently the offensive coordinator at Lanier, certainly isn’t tasked with anything resembling a rebuild.

“That was one of the appealing things about this job,” he said. “It's not beat up. It's not downtrodden, where anybody could come in and win three games and you're the savior of the area here.”

The Wolverines’ offense will see significant changes, though. Cahill anticipates it being less pass-focused than it was last year and has settled on “multiple” as the descriptor for the system, one with spread formations and inside zone plays alongside power run sets, with former Northview head coach Chad Davenport as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“I kind of sat down (with Davenport) and said, ‘Here’s the deal: I like what you did at Northview with the passing and I like what we did at Lanier with the run game,’” Cahill said. “’So we’re going to put those two things together.’”

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West Forsyth junior quarterback Zach Burns tosses the football in between drills during spring practice. - photo by Brian Paglia

Luckily for him, West’s most talented players are concentrated on the offense. Rising senior tight end Ben Bresnahan, who has offers from numerous Power Five programs, is set to be a key piece of the offense, one who could line up as a wide receiver or get on the line and block. Offensive lineman Blake Anderson, who has drawn significant Division I interest, including an offer from Virginia, is set to lead a unit that is much deeper than what Cahill is used to working with.

“At Lanier, we probably had nine offensive linemen,” Cahill said, “and here, I look down and we go three deep.”

In terms of familiarity and comfort with the system, though, West’s defense is well in front of the offense, even with significant vacancies due to graduation. That’s largely because defensive coordinator David Rooney is still there, and Cahill isn’t touching what’s in place on that side of the ball.

So far, Cahill has shown himself a coach willing to adjust to the circumstances, including the ones dictated by the area’s difficult-to-navigate roads – he’s started some practices at 7 p.m. to make sure the coaches not yet working full-time at West can arrive on time.