COATESVILLE - It won't be easy to overlook or move on from the ugliness uncovered recently in the Coatesville Area School District.
But head football coach Matt Ortega, a target of some of that ugliness, said he "is focused and motivated" to make sure the Red Raiders continue their winning ways.
"Honestly, this makes me want to do a better job than I've already been doing," the 38-year-old said Wednesday afternoon.
It was discovered that former Superintendent Richard Como and high school athletic director James Donato had been exchanging racist, lewd, and sexist texts via school-issued cellphones. The Coatesville Area school board voted Tuesday night to accept their resignations.
"It's been tough because of all the accusations going on," Ortega said. "We had the booster club president come in and talk to the kids. It's something we don't want to dwell on. Our kids understand how to work together in terms of race relations."
On Tuesday, Neil Campbell, the school board president, said in a statement that the Chester County District Attorney's Office was investigating "potential kickbacks involving high school football camps" mentioned in some of the text messages.
On Wednesday, Ortega said, "Everything is accounted for. Nothing ever comes from me. I don't touch money. I don't touch anything. It goes through the booster club. . . . The paperwork is there. And again, we're going off of two people who had this issue with the school district, and we're going off something they're throwing around? That just tells you right there. There's nothing to it."
Ortega - who said his mother is Irish and German and his father is Mexican - learned that the texts included racial epithets such as "Taco" and "Burro."
"It's upsetting," said Ortega, a dean of students at the high school. "But for me, personally, I've been down this road before. I still have a job to do. I have to continue to coach and lead this team.
"The thing I know about my players is that they're resilient. They know how to handle adversity. I think that's going to help us get through this.
"These kids, if you look in our school, they don't have race issues in this school. [Tuesday], you would never have even known anything happened. It was a normal day at the high school. And that's what Coatesville is about. Our strength is our diversity. And inside that school district, because of the choice of two people, that is not representation of what our school district is about, what our kids are about."
Ortega, a Steelton, Pa., native, went to Coatesville in 2009 after coaching at William Penn High in York, Pa. Like Coatesville, that school district has an ethnically diverse population.
When asked about his relationship at Coatesville with Donato, who previously coached football in the Kennett Consolidated district, also in Chester County, Ortega offered a "no comment."
"This goes back to two adults who made some obviously bad choices," Ortega said.
Coatesville's football team has won its first four games this season by a combined score of 157-47. It is ranked No. 1 among the state's Class AAAA programs by The Inquirer.
Last season, the Red Raiders went 13-2 and advanced to the PIAA Class AAAA state championship game in Hershey. They lost to District 7's North Allegheny, 63-28.
Among Coatesville's goals this season is winning the Ches-Mont League National Conference championship. It fell just short last year, losing to eventual titlist Downingtown East, 35-34, in Week 4.
The Red Raiders, in preparation for Saturday afternoon's National Conference matchup at fellow unbeaten Bishop Shanahan, practiced as usual Wednesday afternoon.
"It's important that our school and our community heal from this," said Ortega, who played football at St. Francis. "As a team, we're going to try to help with that. We want to represent the school and Coatesville the best way possible."