The Saints have found their man.
Albert Mendoza-Gutierrez has been named the head football coach at Santa Maria High School, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District announced Friday.
Mendoza-Gutierrez takes over the program from Dan Ellington, who resigned in April after a successful six-year run. Ellington has been named the school's athletic director
Mendoza-Gutierrez was an assistant football coach with the Saints for the last five years, the district said. He was an assistant football coach at Pioneer Valley High School from 2010-2013.
Mendoza-Gutierrez played football at Pioneer Valley, graduating in 2010.
“I am extremely excited,’’ Mendoza-Gutierrez said, according to a press release from the school district. “Coach Ellington set a foundation for the football program and I believe we have all the tools at Santa Maria High to continue building the program into a great winning program.’’
Ellington, a Righetti High grad who coached at Pioneer Valley before coming to Santa Maria, went 27-35 with the Saints, winning 44% of his games during his six-year run. In the 11 years before his arrival, Santa Maria won just 17 games total, going 17-92 and winning 15% of its games.
According to the school district's Mendoza-Gutierrez learned the value of athletics from his parents at a young age.
“Growing up, both of my parents coached boys and girls volleyball at all the local high schools, including Santa Maria High,’’ he said. “I would often see players thank my parents through letters or signed volleyballs and I really got to see firsthand the true impact of sports and what role it played in people’s lives.
"Looking back at the experience with my parents and now having gone through eight seasons myself, I truly believe high school sports are teaching student-athletes many important morals and values such as responsibility, hard work ethic, perseverance and commitment - which ultimately can reshape the foundation of their lives so that they can become high contributing members of their communities.’’
Mendoza-Gutierrez graduated from Allan Hancock College in 2013 and Cal Poly in 2015.
Ellington helped the Saints end a two-decade-long league title drought in 2017 and coached that same team to the CIF Southern Section Division 12 title game. He also led the Saints to a victory over Righetti in 2016, the team's only win over their former rival in the last 27 years.