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Autumn Parry / The Californian

Jim Maples was Garces Memorial High School's football coach.

Garces fired head football coach Jim Maples on Tuesday, ending a two-year tenure full of on-field successes and off-field controversy.

According to a press release from the Diocese of Fresno, Maples was told he was being replaced.

Maples was 22-4 as the Rams’ head coach, winning the 2012 Central Section Division II championship and finishing as section runner-up this past season. Before that, he was Garces’ defensive coordinator. Maples also coached at East, where he won the 2004 D-II section title. He is 62-42 in nine years overall.

The only school in Kern County with a better mark than 22-4 in the past two seasons is Wasco (22-3).

The press release stated only that Richard Sexton, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, “thanked Coach Maples for his service to the Garces football program, but explained to him that Garces has decided to take a new direction in its football program.”

Garces said anyone interested in its vacant coaching position should contact the school to request an application.

Sexton did not return multiple messages seeking comment.

Maples also could not be reached. His attorney, Daniel Rodriguez, said his client wouldn’t comment, but Rodriguez did issue a statement, drawing a line between Tuesday’s action and Maples’ previous history at Garces.

Maples had been placed on administrative leave of eight days this past summer while the Catholic Diocese of Fresno investigated possible recruiting violations.

In December, Maples and seven other Garces football coaches filed a claim against the Kern High School District, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and the CIF Central Section, alleging those entities used and spread information from a private conversation that was illegally recorded. The start of that lawsuit, Rodriguez said, is waiting on responses from the parties named.

Rodriguez said the timing of the lawsuit  and Tuesday’s news “seems too coincidental.”

“The Garces head football coach position was Jim Maples' dream job, and the two years that he was the head football coach there were very successful,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “We don't know what more the Garces High School officials could have asked of this man. We can only wonder if the Kern High School District and the CIF pressured Garces into making this move. We intend to get to the bottom of this when we get our chance to question the Garces officials under oath.”

Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow said he could not comment on Maples’ firing because he was named in Maples’ pending lawsuit.

Last week, Garces fired longtime swimming coach Bill Potter, who said he was considering a lawsuit against the school for wrongful termination.

Highland also has opening

The head football coach position at Highland is also open, athletic director Steve Matney confirmed.

Scots coach Steve Montanio and the school parted ways early in the offseason, Matney said. He deferred any other comment to Highland principal Debra Vigstrom, including whether the move was Montanio’s choice.

Three other Bakersfield schools also are seeking a head football coach: East, Mira Monte and Stockdale.

East had interest in Wasco coach Rusvel Prado, but not as a coach, Wasco athletic director Raul Rangel said. The Blades were interested in Prado as an athletic director.

“Russ and I had a lot of long talks, and he changed his mind and decided to stay,” Rangel said.

Rangel also said he expects Prado to eventually pursue an administrative position, either at Wasco or in another district.

“I don’t know how long he’ll be with us as a football coach,” Rangel said. “One, two, three years, I don’t know, but he’s headed in that direction. He was very close to getting out of it this year.”

Rangel said, though, that Prado was “doing everything he’s always done” to prepare for this year’s football season. Prado is 58-23 in eight seasons at Wasco, with a Central Section Division IV championship in 2012.