Central Catholic football coach L.D. Green Sr., an Army veteran whose commitment to discipline and character made him a natural fit for the all-boys private school, has been fired after three seasons.

Green said on Friday that he learned of his dismissal in a meeting Thursday with Central interim principal Eddie Ybarra and new athletic director Hector Rodriguez.

“They told me they’re moving in a different direction,” Green said. “I was shocked, surprised. I didn’t know what to say.”

Green went 19-14 in his three seasons and led the Buttons to the TAPPS playoffs each year. His best finish was in 2015 when Central went 8-3. The Buttons were 6-5 in 2014 and 5-6 last year.

Mike Santiago, the former head coach at University of the Incarnate Word, will be the Buttons’ new coach, according to multiple sources.

Green, 54, said that he had signed a new contract in April.

“I was the third coach they hired in three years, and I thought I brought a little bit of stability there with the mindset of building champions by building character,” Green said. “That’s pretty much the same way my mentors taught me. I was trying to go ahead and do the same thing with these young men.

“I’m definitely disappointed for my players. We had spring training and just finished up last week. We had put together a nice staff and were looking forward to the season. This came as complete surprise to me.”

L.D. Green Sr., with quarterback Jimmy Morton during the 2014 season, was fired as head football coach at Central Catholic on Thursday after three years.

Rodriguez, an assistant athletic director with Northside ISD since 2012, spoke highly of Green.

“Obviously, we think Coach Green is a man of great integrity and, of course, faith,” Rodriguez said. “But we’re just going to go in a different direction, basically. That’s what this is all about. We appreciate and thank Coach Green for all the work he’s done at Central Catholic. We think he’s done a good job.”

Green expressed disappointment that he didn’t have an opportunity to tell his players he wouldn’t return for another season. Thursday was the last day of school at Central.

“At least tell me in April when teacher contracts are up,” Green said of the timing of his firing. “Don’t tell me after spring training. That’s the most disheartening thing, you know? I signed a contract.”

Asked why he and administrators waited until the last day of school to fire Green, Rodriguez said: “There’s really no good time for that to happen. The timing is kind of unfortunate, but it was a change we felt had to make. It’s going to be a difficult transition, but we think we can do that and I think our kids will understand once we get going in the direction we’re headed.”

Green was the Buttons’ third coach in three seasons when he was hired in 2014, following Chris Roberts (2011) and Don Byrd (2012, 2013). Before those three seasons, Carlos Enrico was Central’s head coach for 24 seasons. Enrico stayed on as the school's athletic director, a position he has held since 1987.

Enrico, 62, went 159-107-2 and led the Buttons to the TAPPS Class 5A state title in 2001 and a 4A state co-championship in 1990.

Although Green had never been a head coach, he was no stranger to Central Catholic when he took the job. He was an assistant coach under Enrico for four seasons, joining the Buttons' staff two days after ending his 24-year Army career with his retirement in April 2007.

Green left Central after the 2010 season to become an assistant coach at Trinity. He coached the Tigers' offensive line during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Green spent the 2013 season out of coaching to help his wife, Tritia M. Finley, with the couple's two children while she worked on her doctorate degree at St. Mary's.

Rodriguez, who turns 62 next month, was head football coach at Holmes for four seasons (2009-12) before going to the NISD athletic office in the spring of 2013. He will remain with NISD until starting full time at Central on July 1.