Junior-to-be Nate Gilmore scored a game-high 32 goals last season and is part of a returning core that new head coach Matt Cawley plans to build around. Cawley previously coached at Mullen. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

Matt Cawley played lacrosse in the Centennial League during his prep days and he’ll get the chance to return as a head coach as he has been hired at Cherokee Trail.

Cawley, 34, coached at his alma mater Mullen — which has been moved out of the Centennial League in boys lacrosse in recent years — is eager to rejoin the league that is widely considered one of the strongest in the state in every sport.

“I grew up in the Centennial League, so it’s nice with all the changes that have happened to come back with something that is familiar to me,” Cawley said. “With Mullen moved out of the league, I was seeing a lot of teams I’d never seen before, so it’s nice to come back to what I think is a powerful Centennial League. It’s nice to come back to programs I know and some coaches that I know as well.”

Coincidentally, Cawley’s Mullen team got matched up against Cherokee Trail — which was coached by Jamie Calhoun, who stepped down following the season — in the Class 5A state playoffs last season. The Cougars prevailed in that matchup 15-4 before falling in the next round to an Arapahoe team that went on to win the state championship.

Cawley believes Cherokee Trail has a strong returning core — including attackman Nate Gilmore, who had a team-high 32 goals last season as a sophomore — and he is eager to see it reach the next level. He is bringing nearly his entire coaching staff from Mullen plus a few additions.

Cawley has coached in Aurora previously as he served as the defensive coordinator at Smoky Hill under former coach Gerry McCullar, who is a Mullen graduate as well.

Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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