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Championship football coaches continued despite drug charges

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Two coaches from a California state championship football team have found themselves under fire for continuing in their jobs after engaging in activities that would never have been allowed among their players: possessing marijuana.

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Santa Margarita assistant football coach Scott Coen

Santa Margarita assistant football coach Scott Coen

As first reported by the Orange County Register, Santa Margarita (Calif.) High football assistant coaches Sean Coen -- who is pictured at right -- and Robert Hendricks, who coach the team's wide receivers and defensive backs, respectively, both pled guilty to two charges of possession of narcotic substances in Orange County district court.

Where the issue gets more sticky is the timing of the charges against the coaches. According to the Register, the pair were arrested on December 14, 2010 in connection with broader charges of marijuana cultivation at the residence in which both Coen and Hendricks were living. At the time of their arrest, 232 marijuana plants were found in the house, along with complete lighting and watering systems to cultivate the illicit crops.

Those cultivation and possession for sale charges were later reduced to the misdemeanor possession charges both men were eventually faced, but given the amount of marijuana paraphernalia that was found at their house, plenty of suspicion remains that both men were involved in a larger growing operation.

Despite those charges and surrounding circumstances, the two coaches were allowed to participate in Santa Margarita's entire football season, in which the program won both California Interscholastic Southern Section title and subsequent state crown. Clearly, any athletes at the Catholic school who had even been found in possession of marijuana would have been dismissed, so why did legendary Santa Margarita head coach Harry Welch overlook the legal entanglements of his coaches?

Santa Margarita principal Ray Dunne told the Register that the school was aware of the arrests and convictions facing the men -- who will serve in a community work program in lieu of a 90-day jail sentence -- and that they were both disciplined, though Dunne refused to be drawn on what happened to the two coaches.

That question remains unanswered, though he also made it clear that the pair had his continued support, regardless of what they had been involved in.

"They are assistant coaches in good standing with the school, with me and with the Diocese," Welch told the Register.

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