It took Jesus Maes a few years to land the job he wanted as head coach of the Española Valley football program.
It took him less than two seasons to get fired.
Maes was dismissed Monday morning (Oct. 9), according to Española athletic director Phillip Roybal.
Roybal was a man of few words when it came to Maes’ status, saying only that he had been fired as the football coach, but retained as a culinary arts teacher at the school.
“No comment,” Roybal said when asked if there were any extenuating circumstances that led to the unusual move to terminate a head coach in the middle of a season.
Attempts to reach Maes were unsuccessful.
Sundevils offensive coordinator Ron DuPree has been named interim head coach through the remainder of the season. In effect, he’s the full-time coach until a permanent successor is found.
“He’s the head coach,” Roybal said. “At this point, that’s the way I would describe it.”
Maes was 3-14 during his brief tenure with the Sundevils, going just 1-9 in 2016, his lone full season with the program. The team won two of its first three games this fall, but has dropped four straight, all by at least 20 points.
That includes a 40-20 loss at home to Albuquerque Academy in the District 2-5A opener for both teams. It’s Española’s only game at home between Labor Day weekend and early November.
The Sundevils are off this week, then head to Capital on Oct. 20 and Los Alamos a week later. Their only other home game comes Nov. 3 against Del Norte.
Maes came to Española after four years as the head coach and athletic director at Questa. He led the Wildcats to an 18-20 record, taking them to consecutive trips to the Class 2A playoffs in 2014 and 2015. He had previously been an assistant with Española from 2005-07.
When hired to succeed Miguel Medina in 2016, he said the Sundevils post is one he had long desired. He was actually the second pick for the job, as the school’s top choice, Anthony Finley, was tabbed as Medina’s successor, but subsequently resigned just days later.
Maes was hired in June of 2016, taking over a program that had just won a school-record nine games, a 2-5A championship and been awarded the first home playoff game in school history.
The Sundevils crashed back to earth in Maes’ first season, but the program got a huge boost last spring when a seven-figure project replaced the outdated football facility with a new, modern turf field, surrounding track, lights and new bleachers.
Maes hailed it as a step in the right direction and the Sundevils responded with a 22-8 win over Clayton in the home opener on Aug. 25. They followed it with another win at home two weeks later against Pojoaque Valley.
Roybal said a search for a permanent coach could commence once the season ends, but right now, the focus is on the team finishing out the final three games.
“We will see at the end of the year where we are with a search,” he said.
Webber is a staff reporter for The New Mexican. This story was first published in The New Mexican, a sister publication of The Taos News.