San Tan Charter High School announced Saturday it has parted ways with head football coach Kerry Taylor after just two seasons.
In a statement released on social media from the school's official athletics Twitter account, the school said the separation was "effective immediately." It came the morning after the Roadrunners' 40-22 win over Arete Prep in Gilbert, their final game of the 2021 season.
"Effective today, Coach Kerry Taylor will no longer be employed at San Tan Charter School," the post said. "The search for the next San Tan Charter Head Football Coach will begin in the coming weeks."
San Tan's win over Arete ended with a minute left on the clock and an altercation at midfield.
Roadrunner players were seen on video released to social media Sunday celebrating the win against their rival. Some players were seen stomping and attempting to deface a breast cancer ribbon painted at the 50-yard line in honor of Arete Prep coach Cord Smith's wife, who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. She was an honorary captain for the team and participated in the pregame coin toss.
San Tan players were quickly directed to leave the field and as they did, some players began to wave toward Arete.
San Tan Charter Athletic Director Shawn Lytle did not go on record with what happened, but he did offer an apology to Arete Prep.
"We apologize for the incident that took place," Lytle said. "That doesn't define San Tan or represent San Tan in any way. We are taking appropriate steps to ensure something like this never happens again."
Taylor said in a text the game between the two teams was chippy as emotions from last year's game boiled over. He said one of the Arete coaches began to "talk crap" to one of his players.
Taylor said that player responded with, "scoreboard," referencing San Tan's lead.
"... The refs tossed my player out the game," Taylor said. "I believe we threw a pass with a minute left in the game and they were upset about that also. It’s Arete, they’re always going to be upset at something. It’s a rivalry game so emotions are high and we were just happy to be 2-0 against them."
Taylor was hired to take over the program ahead of the 2020 season, which was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and forced him to meet his players at the time via zoom.
When hired, he immediately aimed to change the culture of the program that had previously competed and had success in the Canyon Athletic Association, another governing body of high school sports for smaller schools in Arizona. The CAA is separate from the AIA, which the Roadrunners joined as a school in 2020.
Taylor led the Roadrunners to a 3-5 overall record in his first season. An influx of transfers from bigger schools in the area made for a promising 2021 season. Taylor told the East Valley Tribune ahead of the season he aimed to get through the first five games before unleashing his transfers in an effort to win the region and secure a spot in the playoffs.
San Tan finished 5-5 overall this year and second in the region. It was left out of the postseason.
Taylor released a statement on Saturday following the announcement from San Tan Charter.
"I first would like to thank San Tan Charter for allowing me to lead the program the last 2 seasons," Taylor wrote. "Special appreciation for my players and staff that put in countless hour of work."
Taylor went on to say he and the administration at San Tan "wanted different things for the program."
"(We) didn't see eye to eye when it came to player accountability and preparing young men for life," he added. "I was not going to lower my values as a coach/man and allow players to settle for less than what they are capable of."
Taylor previously coached at Arcadia High School where, at one point, he was fired due to an alleged recruiting violation before players and parents protested the decision by administration. He was eventually reinstated before resigning after the next season.
Taylor began his statement saying his "next chapter" would come soon. He wished San Tan Charter well in the process.
"I respect San Tan Charter and their beliefs on love and logic," he said. "They will find a great coach to move the program forward."