BRADENTON -- He wore a Cardinal Mooney shirt during warmups Friday, switched to Southeast garb during a ceremony honoring him, and then put the Mooney shirt back on.
It was easy to see what felt comfortable for Paul Maechtle.
The legendary Southeast High football coach was honored by the school he worked at for 41 years as they renamed the venue he made famous. It's now Paul Maechtle Field at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
It was the house that Maechtle built where he brought so many local fans and residents joy for more than three decades in a storied coaching career.
Never miss a local story.
"I don't think the sign is big enough for all the names that deserve to be on it besides mine," Maechtle said. "It wasn't just me. Believe me. So many people contributed to our success. It was because the school and the players were growing at the same time and I just happened to be the guy who was there."
It was deserving and natural except when Maechtle was wearing a Cardinal Mooney shirt. He is the Cougars defensive coordinator and admits this was a situation he would've preferred to avoid.
"I say thank you to all the people who helped and there were many at Southeast. What a great run it was and honor this is," Maechtle said.
A lot of people who played for Maechtle and then had their sons suit up for him would disagree he wasn't the person most responsible for the program's success and their children earning college scholarships.
He was a legend in his own time, who united an entire community.
Maechtle was head coach at Southeast for 33 years and worked at the school for 41. He won 283 games, took the Seminoles to five state championship games and won two state titles.
Some of Maechtle's fondest memories of the field include 1985 when Southeast and Manatee made Bradenton the football mecca of state as they played host in their respective state championship games.
Then there was 1994 when Peter Warrick came back after being out because of an injury and scored four touchdowns.
Maechtle stepped down as Southeast coach after the 2013 season and thought he was done.
Then Cardinal Mooney head coach Josh Smithers asked him to help. Since his grandchild was on the team Maechtle agreed. He thought it would be a short-term thing, but now he is in his second season.
Qion Burch, one of the smallest but most dynamic players on the current Southeast team, played under Maechtle for two years and thanked the coach for his success.
"He taught me to be confident no matter what is happening and to put your heart into the game," Burch said. "I learned from him that if you have heart it doesn't matter if you are the smallest guy on the team."
Southeast long-time assistant coach Brian McKnight, who coached under Maechtle for more than two decades called the evening bittersweet.
"I am very happy for him. Coach Maechtle is deserving, but we are going to try and beat him tonight. It's like we did in practice all those years, but this time the scoreboard will keep track," he said.