Española Replaces Maes As Football Coach In Mid-Season

by Staff Reporter / Oct 11, 2017 / comments
Española Coach Jesus Maes talks to the team after a summer practice. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Española Replaces Maes As Football Coach In Mid-Season

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Española Valley High School football coach Jesus Maes was reassigned Monday (10/9) and is no longer head football coach at Española.

“Jesus was not fired, he was reassigned,” Española Athletic Director Phillip Roybal said. “He is no longer head coach. He was told he could remain on staff as an assistant coach, but opted not to.”

Maes has his own opinion of the reassignment.

“That’s a nice way of saying ‘You’re fired,’” Maes said.

Athletic Director Roybal said it was a tough decision.  He declined to name specific reasons for his actions. He called it “kind of a personnel matter.”

“I reached the decision after a hard weekend of contemplation,” Roybal said. “It was a culmination of the entire program.”

Maes was named head coach in June, 2016 after former head coach Miguel Medina resigned in protest of the firing of then-Española  Public Schools Superintendent Bobbi Gutierrez. Gutierrez had relieved then-Española boys basketball coach Richard Martinez of his coaching duties. The Española Public School Board forced Gutierrez to resign shortly after Martinez’s firing.

Coach Medina attended an Española School Board meeting holding a sign that said “If she goes, I go.”

Medina stuck to his words and resigned after the resignation of Gutierrez. He is currently an assistant coach at Santa Fe High School.

With Medina as coach in 2015, the Sundevils were coming off their best season in school history. Española was 9-2 on the season and won the District 2-5A title, qualifying for the state football playoffs for just the second time in school history. That team was led by a group of 16 seniors that subsequently graduated before the 2016 season.

Coach Maes had been an assistant coach at Española from 2005-2006. He was head coach at Escalante in 2008, then served as head coach at Dulce High School from 2009-2010. He was head coach at Questa High School from 2012-2015.

Last season (2016), Española fell to 1-9 on the season. The Sundevils lost six straight games before recording their first win of the season 24-20 against Albuquerque Academy. Española played well in its next three games against District 2-5A opponents, losing to Los Alamos 35-34 on the last play of the game, but failed to pick up another win.

This past summer, Coach Maes suffered a shakeup in his staff when his defensive coordinator left after failing to reach an agreement over his contract. Other assistants failed to obtain their coaching licenses.

Needing to replace a staff he thought he had in place, Maes added new members with the help of Roybal that included Ron Dupree. Dupree, who had previously worked with Roybal, took over the offense. Maes handled the defense.

Dupree was promoted to head coach following the reassignment of Maes.

“He’s (Dupree) head coach for the rest of the season,” Roybal said.

This season, the Sundevils started with a 2-1 record defeating Class  3A Clayton High School (1-6 so far this season) and Class 4A Pojoaque Valley High School (also 1-6 so far this season), while losing a close game 12-6 to Class 2A Escalante High School (7-0 this season).

The Sundevils then lost three straight road game by lop-sided scores. The straw that broke the camel’s back looks like it was a 40-20 loss to Albuquerque Academy Oct. 6 at Española in Española’s District 2-5A opener. Academy was just 1-5 going into the game. Española fell to 2-5 overall and 0-1 in District 2-5A following the loss to Academy.

Maes said that the poor record was a factor in his firing (reassignment).

“Of course, the record,” Maes said. “He (Roybal) said the defense wasn’t holding people from scoring. He said there was disorganization (on defense).”

Maes said he had planned to make some changes following the loss to Academy.

Española Coach Jesus Maes (left) talks to assistant coaches Ron Dupree (middle) and Rudy Martinez (right) during summer practice before the season. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I was going to demote Dupree and go back to the offense we had last year,” Maes said. “We needed to make a change. I didn’t know they were about to fire me.”

Maes firing (reassignment) was not a big surprise.

“I kind of knew it was coming,” Maes said. “I’ve been looking over my shoulder. I kind of had my hands tied. I kind of blame myself. I gave them (the assistant coaches) too much responsibility.”

Maes said he took the rest of the day (Monday) off after his firing (reassignment) and also took Tuesday off. He said he would return to work Wednesday (10/11) for his students. Maes is also a culinary arts teacher at Española.

“I needed to man up and do what’s best for the students,” Maes said. “It was the lowest part of my life. I’m a coach, I’m a winner. I just have to press the reset button. Do some soul-searching.”