Jesus Martinez was fired Sunday after just one year as Napa High School’s head football coach.
In announcing the move, Principal Annie Petrie said Martinez, 33, was offered the option of resigning “as a professional courtesy,” but he declined.
“He chose to be relieved of his duties,” Petrie said Monday morning.
Tom Petithomme, Napa High’s new athletic director, has been appointed as interim head football coach, said Petrie.
Petithomme played football at Modesto Junior College, San Jose State and then played five years in the Arena Football League, including three seasons for the San Jose SaberCats.
Martinez, a part-time coach, met with his coaching staff and Petrie on Sunday.
“We thank coach Martinez for his support and we’re looking forward to building a strong future for our football program,” said Petrie. “We are moving in a different direction.”
Petrie declined to elaborate.
Martinez got the job as Napa High’s head coach on May 24, 2017 after nine years as offensive coordinator on the junior varsity staff and as the JV head coach in 2016.
He took over for Troy Mott, who resigned as head coach in March of 2017 after a dispute with administrators on how to rebuild the football program after a hazing scandal.
Mott, the winningest head football coach in Napa High history, resigned after leading the program for 11 years. His departure came after what he described as “varying philosophies” on the future of the program between him and the administration.
Martinez stepped into the top position after administrators said they were having difficulty finding a new head coach and raised the possibility of cancelling the 2017 season entirely.
Now, with an entire offseason in which to oversee a weight training program and prepare for the 2018 season, Martinez said he was feeling good about everything – including all the work that the players have been putting in and the coaching staff he had assembled.
Martinez led Napa through spring practices last month. The CIF North Coast Section allows for 10 practices in the spring for its member schools.
As part of its summer program, Napa will play in a local 7-on-7 passing league on Tuesday nights against other area schools.
“We finished off a great spring,” Martinez said Sunday. “We had great offseason weight training. I wish the kids nothing but the best. Hopefully they retain the lessons that they’ve learned over this offseason and continue to work hard and be disciplined and always play with effort.”
Napa was 3-6 overall last year and 1-3 in the Monticello Empire League (MEL).
Martinez said the timing of the coaching change is “poor decision making.”
“I feel bad for the kids,” he said. “It’s a big hit. It’s a big disappointment for them – right before their season begins. We had just a great year so far.”
“I just want to make it very clear that I did not resign. I did not disappoint those kids. I didn’t quit on the kids. I was relieved of my duties by Annie Petrie, without reason. It’s one of those things – it’s just out of the blue.”
Martinez said he was at work — as a police officer at Napa State Hospital – when he got a text message early Sunday from Petithomme. It notified him that he was needed to meet with Petrie and Petithomme. This was followed by another text message about three hours later from Petithomme, asking for him to call.
“I gave him a call. He tells me that he was asked by Annie to relieve me of my head coaching duties because Napa High was going in a different direction with football,” said Martinez.
Later in the day, Martinez met with his staff, informing them what had happened. He said he also met with Petrie.
“I asked Annie, face to face, what the issue was and she just said Napa High was heading in a different direction with football. She said the decision had come from the (Napa Valley Unified School District), but later in the meeting she told one of my coaches that it was her decision. I asked her why do this a day before we start our summer practice? And she said it was just time to move on.
“My question was, ‘Time to move on from what? What exactly are we moving on from?’
“With me stepping in last year, and the situation that I stepped into, I thought I deserved at least an explanation.”
Martinez added: “Annie said, ‘We’re parting ways. We’re heading in a different direction.’ She said, ‘I want to give you the opportunity to resign for family issues.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ I said, ‘I absolutely will not do that.’ All I wanted was an answer why, or a reason. ‘Give me a reason.’ She gave me no reason.”
Petrie declined to comment on Martinez’s account.
Napa is leaving the MEL and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to join a new league, the Vine Valley Athletic League, which is part of the North Coast Section, starting with the 2018-19 school year.
Napa will play nonleague games against Pitman-Turlock, East Union-Manteca, Nevada Union-Grass Valley and Archbishop Riordan-San Francisco.