By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – In a grudge match between a high school coach and his own players, call it a score for the seniors, but there’s no celebrating.

Guillermo Salazar is the senior at the center of the Rio Americano High School rift that split school spirit.

“This whole situation, I was disappointed in the way it ended, the way it got out to the media,” Salazar said Tuesday.

“Everybody had their own opinion about it,” junior Ricardo Vega said. “I’m staying out of it.”

Salazar is now back on the team and his coach is gone, just 24 hours after saying he planned to stay.

“You’ve got to keep leading and coaching, and that’s what myself and my staff are doing,” coach Christian Mahaffey said on Monday.

But the school principal, Brian Ginter, removed Mahaffey and two of his assistants Tuesday after mounting backlash.

Mahaffey cut Salazar when the senior told his coach a college recruiting baseball tournament in Arizona would force him to miss a football game later this month.

Mahaffey then cut 11 more seniors last week after they protested Salazar’s removal by turning in their pads. He says they quit on the team and the remaining 21 players were moving on without them.

Now the district will reinstate all the players because Mahaffey never made his policy on missed games clear in writing. Mahaffey said he wouldn’t continue to coach if the players were allowed back, and Ginter was forced to fire him and his top two assistants.

“I have a commitment or I have a reason to be gone from the game, that wasn’t clearly defined for players and parents ahead of time,” San Juan Unified District spokesman Trent Allen said.

Now the coach is canned and the players will be allowed to play after serving a one-game suspension for insubordination on Friday.

Tuesday’s decision came after a meeting Monday night at the school with parents, staff and players.

“This situation, the way it was going to turn out, some side was going to be unhappy, and the other side was going to be happy,” Salazar said.

Mahaffey, an off-campus coach who teaches special education in the district, had been the head coach since 2009.


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