Gino Mariani

Highland High School football coach Gino Mariani addresses his team during a 2018 5A state playoff game against Mountain View at Holt Arena.

POCATELLO — Former Highland High School football coach Gino Mariani broke his silence Wednesday with a statement taking issue with the school’s administration and announcing his coaching career isn’t over.

Mariani’s Wednesday statement began with the longtime coach thumping his chest for the team’s success throughout his 21-year tenure as the Rams’ head coach.

“On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the student athletes, coaches, parents and community for the opportunity that was entrusted to me in 2001 to lead the highland football program,” Mariani said in the statement. “Two decades-plus we continued a rich football tradition with high expectations which continued a playoff appearance for the Rams that stretched all 21 consecutive years. What a run!”

Mariani also took issue with the school’s administration and what he described as a sudden change in direction.

“However, due to an abrupt change in vision and philosophy at the administrative level at (Highland High School), I have made the decision to move on from Highland football,” Mariani said. “One valuable lesson I learned is that if communication is below you then leadership is beyond you as a supervisor.”

He concluded that his coaching career is definitely not over and offered his well wishes to Highland moving forward.

“I’m not done coaching and look forward to my next coaching opportunity and wish the Rams well moving forward,” he said.

Highland High School athletic director Travis Bell declined to comment on specifics regarding Mariani’s departure, but did say the Rams are prepared to go on without Mariani.

“Highland High School is moving forward and hoping to have a new coach hired by Monday,” Bell told the Idaho State Journal via text Thursday.

During his time at Highland, Mariani coached players who went on to join the NFL, including tight end Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints and defensive lineman Tommy Togiai of the Cleveland Browns.

Over the past two decades, Mariani captured four state championships and established Highland’s football program as one of the state’s best.

Last season, Highland fell to Rigby in the 5A state championship game. The Rams finished 10-3 on the season.