WATERVILLE — When he returned to his hometown to coach and teach, Matt Gilley sat down with then-Waterville Senior High School varsity football coach Frank Knight, and outlined his coaching goals. Eventually, Gilley said, he’d like to be a head coach.

“(Knight) delegated a lot of different things to me, to prepare me for this opportunity,” Gilley said.

On Monday, Gilley was approved by the Waterville school board as the new varsity football coach.

Gilley replaces longtime head coach Knight, who retired after the 2013 season. Knight was head coach of the Purple Panthers for 24 season, and led the team to Pine Tree Conference Class A titles in 1993 and 1994. Waterville reached the conference finals in each of the last two seasons, in Class B in 2012 and Class C last fall.

Over the last six years, Gilley has coached Waterville’s freshman and junior varsity teams, and has been the program’s strength and conditioning coach. Gilley also serves as an assistant track and field coach at Waterville, working with the team’s throwers.

“Coach Gilley is certainly a coach I admire, and a coach our students admire,” Waterville athletic director Heidi Bernier said. “He’s going to do some great things here.”

Gilley graduated from Waterville in 2000, and went on to Springfield College. He returned to Waterville in 2008, and immediately began working with the Purple Panthers.

Gilley’s familiarity with the players should make the transition to him from Knight a smooth one.

“I’ve coached every guy in the program. It’s been a great opportunity to work with these guys,” Gilley said.

Fans won’t see wholesale changes in the Panthers, Gilley said. Waterville’s offense won’t switch from the wing-t to a five wide spread look, for example, but there will be some changes. Gilley mentioned the triple option used at Springfield, and said the Panthers could see more option plays in the playbook next season.

“There won’t be a complete overhaul, but there will be some changes,” Gilley said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242 tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM