SAN JOSE -- Darrell Williams is out as San Jose High football coach, but the former Mercury News coach of the year is not going down without a fight, one of his assistant coaches said Monday.
Williams hopes to meet with district officials this week in an attempt to regain the position he held for three years, said Ryan Balli, who coached on Williams' staff since the coach came aboard.
The school's new administration dismissed Williams two weeks ago because it felt that it was time for a change, new assistant principal Herbert Espiritu said.
But according to Balli, the coach was let go because of a financial issue with the team's Gridiron Booster Club.
The club was behind in its bills largely because a $5,200 matching funds donation was mistakenly sent to another booster club at the school and held for months, Balli said.
"There is no reason coach Williams should have been fired," Balli said. "He is not on the hook for any of these bills. The last year I played was when coach Williams came on. He was hired after my last game. We completely did a 180 on the program -- all new Nike uniforms. Everything we do is first class. There is no reason why he should have been let go."
Williams declined to comment for this story.
Espiritu said he did not know about the financial issues, noting that the school is just focusing on hiring a new football coach and athletic director. Matthew Ojeda stepped down as A.D. at the end of the school year.
"For us, it was just for a chance to go in a different direction," Espiritu said. "That's really what we're focusing on is just turning the chapter. We're going to interview this week for the football job and the athletic director position.
"I couldn't confirm anything with you with what happened. We weren't there. None of the administration team was there when Coach Williams was there the last three years. I don't have any knowledge of that, and that's not the reason why we made the change."
Why make the change?
"We just felt that football is an important part of the school and coach Williams left San Jose High football at a better place than when he got it," Espiritu said. "I have been at a lot of different schools, and sometimes change is good. We're trying to hire the best athletic and football coach that we can at this point. We feel confident with the people that we're interviewing that we're going to find that."
An online petition started by Balli and another of Williams' assistants is circulating through the school community in hopes of building support for the coach.
Williams was the Mercury News coach of the year in 2012 after the team bounced back from a two-win season the previous year to win nine games.
But the team has gone through nothing but trying times since then, which have included a player being slain in daylight just off campus in February 2013. Last season, San Jose went 0-10, dropping Williams' record to 11-19.
"When you make changes like this, it's never going to be easy," Espiritu said. "I understand that. But at the same time, we have the complete support of the district office. They gave us a mission and a vision, and that's what we're following here."