St. Anthony is parting ways with its most successful football coach in half a century, as the school didn’t renew its contract with head coach Mario Morales.
“I was called in for a meeting today at noon, it took about a minute and they said they’re going in another direction,” said Morales. “It’s been great, I’ve loved every second of it. Being part of the history and the tradition is something I’ll always remember.”
Morales had been the coach of the Saints for the last 10 seasons, after coaching in the Moore League as the head man at Wilson for the eight seasons prior to that. Morales led the Saints to a CIF Southern Section championship in 2016, the school’s first football title since 1948. They also won their first league title in 15 years that season, and set a program record for most wins in a season with 13, breaking their own record of 11 wins from 2014, when Morales coached the Saints to their first CIF-SS semifinal since 1955.
“Fielding competitive teams every year and being relevant again is something that we’re very proud of,” said Morales. ”It was a great run and I wish the seniors and everyone still in the program the best of luck. There’s a really good group coming back there, they’re going to be fine.”
Morales’ Saints were 60-37 over the last 10 seasons, and recently posted three narrow losing records, although part of that was Morales’ decision to play Moore League programs in higher divisions, looking to up his team’s level of competition as well as to stir up local rivalry.
The Saints will need to install a replacement quickly with seven weeks left until the first game of the season. The school had previously expressed interest in bringing former Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara into the program. Next steps aren’t certain yet either for Morales, although he has worked at Lakewood High as a dean of students for the last several years.
“I really don’t know yet, it’s late in the game,” said Morales. “I may take a season off and go around and watch other schools and take it in. I want to wait and see what I really want to do and take the emotion out of it.”