The star-crossed off-season of Santa Margarita Catholic's football program took another wild turn over the weekend when an assistant junior varsity coach was charged with possession and being under the influence of narcotics. He was fired by the school on Wednesday.
Kevin Lawrence Orton, 48, was wearing his Santa Margarita football polo shirt Saturday when deputies noticed his 2006 Cadillac limousine stopped in the road. The limo, in the No. 2 lane on Rancho Viejo Road near Trabuco Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano, didn't have its flashers on.
Deputies approached to assist the apparently disabled vehicle, but according to Orange County Sheriff spokesman Jim Amormino, noticed a white powdery substance in a coffee cup on the console, a $20 bill rolled into a cylinder with traces of white on it, and driver Orton showing signs of being under the influence.
Deputies conducted a field test on the substance and found it tested positive for cocaine, authorities said.
Orton was an assistant on the junior varsity team in 2011 but also involved in scouting for the varsity program. He was hired as an assistant golf coach in July 2010 (golf is a spring sport).
Stephen Bohannon, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, said the school became aware of Orton's arrest on Monday and placed him on unpaid administrative leave; he was fired Wednesday.
Here is a statement sent to SMCHS parents from president Paul Carey and principal Ray Dunne:
In the interest of making you aware of a recent situation involving one of our coaches, we wanted to inform you that effective today Kevin Orton, a JV football and frosh-soph boys golf coach, is no longer employed at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.
Orton was arrested in San Juan Capistrano early Saturday, Feb. 4, on suspicion of possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Following the arrest, Orton was immediately placed on leave and terminated Wednesday.
According to court records, in March 1998, a Kevin Lawrence Orton was charged with possession of a controlled substance but the case was dismissed. In May 2003, he was charged with battery and assault. Those charges were dismissed, but he did plead guilty to disturbing the peace.
Orton's arrest is the latest black mark since the end of a football season in which the team won the Southern Section Pac-5 title and then the California State Division I Bowl Championship.
, who just finished his second season with Santa Margarita and has gone 22-5 with a program that had won only six games in the two seasons prior to his hiring, remains on administrative leave. He was placed on leave on Jan. 20 while Orange County Sheriff deputies as well as the Diocese of Orange and SMCHS conducted a review of an incident in which he was alleged to have shoved or pushed a student-athlete on Dec. 13, between the Pac-5 title game and the State Bowl. The with assault, but for his return; Bohannon said the review is ongoing.
The Welch incident came to light after two of his varsity assistants, Sean Coen and Robert Hendricks, to misdemeanor possession of marijuana early in the season.
Initially, the school defended the two men's inclusion on the coaching staff, but backtracked and fired the men after it was revealed that it was a plea deal and new information had become available. Coen, Hendricks and St. Margaret offensive line coach Charles Spann had originally been charged with felony counts of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale before taking the plea deal.