After coaching stops at Overland and Aurora Central high schools, DaVaughn Thornton Sr. has been hired as the new head football coach at Vista PEAK. He takes over for John Sullivan, who stepped down in May. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | DaVaughn Thornton Sr.’s football coaching career has revolved around Peoria Street, with stops at Overland and Aurora Central high schools in recent years.

East 6th Avenue will be his new football home, as the 30-year-old former Colorado prep star has been hired as the new coach at Vista PEAK Prep.

Thornton Sr. earned the nod to take over the program from John Sullivan, the school’s athletic director, who stepped down after leading the Bison to the Class 5A Season C semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion FNE Warriors.

“Vista PEAK is a winning program and it has prestige throughout the state,” Thornton Sr. told the Sentinel. “The expectation there is winning and I’m looking forward to keeping that going.”

Thornton Sr. becomes the third head coach in a decade of football at Vista PEAK, following Pat Rock (who went 12-18 from 2012-14) and Sullivan, who finished 38-21 in six seasons and led the Bison to two state playoff appearances and the program’s only postseason victory this spring. Sullivan left the football job in May (story).

Thornton Sr. is one of four new coaches of an Aurora program ahead of the fall season after Tom Doherty was hired at Grandview (story) and Earnest Collins Jr. came aboard at Gateway (story). Aurora Central moved quickly and turned to alum Chris Kelly (story) on the same day the new of Thornton Sr.’s departure came out.

When the Vista PEAK job came open, Thornton Sr. said he got a call from a friend from his days playing at the University of Colorado who felt it was something he should go after.

“One of my Buffalo brothers called me and said he thought it would be a great fit for me,” Thornton Sr. said. “So I applied and the rest is history.”

“We are excited to have Coach Thornton taking the lead for our program,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Coach Thornton will be an excellent role model and mentor for our student-athletes and will build upon the recent success the program has had both on and off the field.”

Thornton Sr. comes off one season at Aurora Central in which the Trojans qualified as the No. 8 seed for the Season C 4A playoffs, but were unable to play after they were exposed to an opponent with a positive COVID-19 test. The forfeit loss put the final record at 3-4.

At Overland — where he was named interim head coach after Steve Sewell stepped down — Thornton’s team qualified for the 5A state playoffs, though he didn’t finish the season on the sidelines.

Thornton Sr. is a former multi-sport star at Denver East High School who went on to a Division I career as a tight end at the University of Colorado (playing also at Colorado State-Pueblo).

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

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