There are a few certain assumptions people make when they watch Don Beckwith stalk the Maranacook sideline. People often assume he cares only about winning, that he could care less about his players so long as they perform and that he has little, if any, respect for the opposition.

And, well, those are reasonable assumptions.

“I would think the same thing,” Black Bear captain Jackson McPhedran said.

But you’d be wrong.

“I’m proud to say I’ve had him all these years. He’s just the opposite of those things,” McPhedran said. “Deep down, he’s a teddy bear. He cares about everyone. I’ve called him out-of-season, at night, and he always says he’s there for anything you need. Everyone at this point, even if you’re a freshman, you’re part of this family and you know it.”

Beckwith, who led Maranacook to its third Class C state championship in the last five years, has been selected as the Kennebec Journal Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. It’s the third time Beckwith has received the honor. Cony’s Jon Millett was also considered.

“One of the reasons I get accolades like this is because of my assistants, Phil (Mohlar) and John (McPhedran),” Beckwith said. “It really is.”

Beckwith hasn’t reinvented the game of soccer. Though there are elements of the German ‘gegenpress’ — sometimes referred to as Heavy Metal Football for its high-intensity characteristic — his game plan essentially boils down to three ingredients: Defend, pressure and put the team first.

It works, and it’s not changing anytime soon.

“It’s a pretty easy sell, because of the success we’ve had,” Beckwith said. “Success does breed success. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Kids want to succeed.”

“He’s consistent,” McPhedran said. “He always says the same type of things and has the same true core values. A huge thing for him is the idea of family. We’re all one team, all doing the same thing, the same job. During the banquet, he has everyone who did not play in the state game stand up. He tells them that they’re even more important than those who did play in the game, because they’re the ones who pushed them every day all season to be at the level that we needed to get to. That’s the kind of coach he is.”

This year’s team, though it dropped down to Class C after two years in Class B, where it went to consecutive regional finals, didn’t necessarily find itself heaped in high expectations. Certainly, the Black Bears expected to find their way deep into the playoffs, but they were replacing an extremely talented central midfielder in Hayden Elwell (who is now at the University of New Hampshire) and a productive striker in Sam Wilkinson.

Given Maranacook’s commitment to defense, the season soon took shape. In a 1-0 win over Erskine Academy early in the season, Beckwith started to believe.

“I thought we had something then,” he said. “I thought we were good enough defensively to hang with anybody. I honestly didn’t think we’d be this good. We had to be, though, because we didn’t score that many goals.”

Another key point for Maranacook was its only loss of the season — 3-0 at home to eventual Class A state champion Lewiston. Though the Blue Devils had more talent, Lewiston coach Mike McGraw praised the Black Bears’ effort in that game.

“That’s when I knew we had a chance to win it all. That’s when I knew,” Beckwith said. “Our kids never quit. You learn more about your team in games like that than when you blow somebody out.”

There weren’t many of those for the Black Bears. Six of their last eight wins, and seven of their last nine matches overall — including the state final — were decided by a single goal.

“When they’re doing their job, it’s 11 guys playing defense together,” Beckwith said. “When we get the ball, we’re all going forward together.”

Beckwith wouldn’t rank any of his state championships, saying only that the 2013 title with his son on the team remains special, but he did note that he enjoyed this time around more than the others.

“This was was probably more fun, only because I knew what to expect of the whole experience,” he said.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.