Prep Rally | Who will step into the void left by coaching legends Joe Kinnan, Paul Maechtle?

jlembo@bradenton.comJune 27, 2014 

Here's one important thing to remember about Joe Kinnan and Paul Maechtle: They were young once, too.

They were unproven.

They didn't walk into job interviews at Manatee and Southeast with their hands covered in championship rings.

It's safe to say things went pretty well for each of them.

The 2014 prep football season begins in less than six weeks, and it is setting up to be one of transition.

There will be no Maechtle, the winner of two state titles who retired from coaching Southeast after last season. There will be no Kinnan, who announced last week he will be taking a medical leave of absence from Manatee. It is unclear if Kinnan, winner of five state titles and 290 games, will coach again.

No Maechtle, no Kinnan. That's seven state titles, 12 state final appearances and nearly 600 career wins that won't be part of the action next fall.

That's a whole lot of legend. And it marks the first time since 1980 you won't be able to find either guy on a Bradenton sideline.

What's Manatee County football without Kinnan and Maechtle? What's Florida prep football without Kinnan and Maechtle? Why not just rip down the goal posts and cancel the coin flip?

Here's the rub: It all goes on, even without the two men who forever changed the face of area football. And it's time for other young coaches to start carving their own legacies.

"Changes aren't permanent, but change is." So said Rush, the world's greatest power trio. And it's true. This isn't the first time and won't be the last time we lost a big-time coach or two.

Mike Dowling walked away from Cardinal Mooney in 2006. John Sprague's run at Riverview ended after the 2010 season. It happens. And we play on and look for other legends to fill the void.

Maybe they are out there. Palmetto's Dave Marino, an assistant in this area for 20 years and a Maechtle disciple, has led Palmetto to four straight playoff berths for the first time in program history. Curt Bradley guided Braden River to a winning season in 2013 after losing the first nine games of 2012.

Are they next in line? Maybe it's Lakewood Ranch's Shawn Trent and Out-of-Door Academy's Brett Timmons, now the area's longest-tenured coaches.

We don't know.

Someone saw something special in Kinnan and Maechtle close to 35 years ago, when each was hired to lead. But did that same someone see two historic, iconic careers?

Probably not.

Part of the fun is we don't know what's going to happen or who the next great one is going to be. Maybe it's one of the players. Heck, Kinnan and Maechtle were just players once, too.

Bradenton football has lost two legends. But maybe more are out there.

It all depends on where you look.

John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878.

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