Observant Maple Grove boys soccer fans will notice a pair of new faces patrolling the sidelines and directing play for the Red Dragons this season.
New faces, perhaps, but familiar ones, too.
Kevin Beaton, who is also the Maple Grove tennis coach and an elementary school physical education teacher, and Jerry Pardue, a software engineer who coached soccer at Jamestown Community College in the mid-1990s and led both the Maple Grove jayvees for two years and also the BAYSO under-17 travel team, took the reigns from longtime coach Cindy Saxton.
Beaton will be the head coach and Pardue the assistant, though much of their duties, especially during games, are shared.
Pardue (Jesse) and Beaton (Riley) have sons playing on the team this season, both of whom are seniors.
"If a teacher wants to coach, then they coach," Pardue explained of the change. "So (Beaton) decided he wanted to do it this year because it was Riley's senior year."
In addition to having a son on the team, Pardue was excited by the opportunity to again lead players that he had once coached as youngsters.
"I've coached these kids (that are one the varsity team now) since they were on the jayvee team and since they were in the BAYSO (league)," he said. "And it's nice to have it all come around full circle and to be able to coach them again."
Like Saxton, who became the Red Dragons' head coach in 2007 following a successful season in which they went 18-3 and earned a berth in the Section 6 finals, the pair are taking over a solid team. And like Saxton, who was the 2007 Post-Journal Coach of the Year, they have, thus far, achieved promising results.
Since taking over during the offseason, Beaton and Pardue have guided the Red Dragons, of Class C, to a 2-0-1 overall record with a victory over Fredonia, a tie with Southwestern - both squads are in Class B - and, most recently, a 4-1 win over Division 3 foe Ellicottville. The squad has surrendered just one goal over that span.
"(Beaton) took over and he's been doing a great job, obviously," Pardue said.
And he expects the success to continue.
"Cindy Saxton really got things going and gave the program a great foundation," Pardue said, "and we have a core group of kids coming back. So it's looking good and I'm very optimistic."