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After One Season, Spalding Quits Diablos

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Marty Spalding has resigned as the football coach at Mission Viejo High School, less than a year after being hired.

Spalding, 46, met with Principal Robert Metz on Monday and after “deliberating for a while,” announced his decision.

“I appreciate the opportunity Robert Metz has given me to be a head coach,” Spalding said. “But based on the situation that has been going on in school, there is no doubt that the best interest is for me to resign.”

Spalding declined further comment other than to say his position at the school was “tenuous.”

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Metz declined to elaborate, saying only that he “understood where Marty is coming from.”

Spalding has been under fire since he taking the job in May. He replaced Mike Rush, who had been forced to resign in March. Rush died Tuesday.

Spalding was hired after a two-month search. The search committee interviewed 10 finalists, several of whom had ties to Mission Viejo.

Spalding’s selection angered many parents. He previously was an assistant coach at El Toro, then a bitter rival of Mission Viejo. That alone caused friction. He further angered some parents by hiring former El Toro Coach Bob Johnson as an assistant.

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“They brought in someone who wasn’t a Diablo,” said one coach, who asked not to be identified. “That’s not to say Marty can’t coach. It was just a difficult situation for an outsider.”

The pressure increased as the season progressed, according to coaches. The Diablos finished 4-6 and 1-4 in the South Coast League. They missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.

“There was no question Marty was feeling pressure,” said Chuck Drinkworth, a Diablo assistant. “The outside community probably had something to do with it. The situation was uncomfortable. They never gave him a real shot at doing the job he was capable of doing.”

Said assistant Coach Bill Denny: “I don’t want to say Marty was an unhappy camper, but he mentioned before that he wasn’t totally happy.”

Johnson and other assistants will remain on the staff for the time being, Metz said.

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After two seasons as Bolsa Grande’s football coach, Gary Stephens has resigned. Stephens, who compiled a 3-17 record, declined to say why he quit.

“It was not any one thing . . . a whole combination of things,” Stephens said. “I decided it would probably be best to back out and give somebody else a chance. I enjoyed the two years I was there with the kids.”

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Stephens said Bolsa Grande Principal Jim Morrison attempted to talk him out of his decision.

“I told him on Wednesday and he said, ‘If you want to reconsider and change your mind over the weekend, you have that option.’ It’s nice to feel that they want you back. Over the last two years, there has been some progress in the program. I guess he thought we could build on that.”

Bolsa Grande was 3-7 this season after failing to win a game in Stephens’ first season.

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Times staff writers Kim Q. Berkshire and Dave McKibben contributed to this story.


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