Cook County circuit Judge Kathleen Kennedy denied a legal challenge from Fenwick High School to overturn its 18-17 overtime playoff loss to Plainfield North last Saturday in an IHSA Class 7A state semifinal game. Plainfield North will play East St. Louis for the 7A title on Saturday at Champaign’s Memorial Stadium.The IHSA released a statement saying, in part:
“Today’s decision by the Honorable Kathleen G. Kennedy in the Circuit Court of Chicago to uphold the result of the IHSA Class 7A Semifinal Football game is not a victory. There is no celebration and there are no winners in this circumstance. It is simply a resolution.
The Fenwick High School community has been dealt a pair of devastating blows over the past few days, while Plainfield North had a historic moment shrouded in controversy simply for following the rules provided for them, first by the game officials, and then by the IHSA.
We will move forward now, in the short-term with eight state championship football games at the University of Illinois this weekend. In the long-run, it is our job as an Association, Board of Directors and membership to look at our policies and rules to see if and how we might be able to prevent instances like this in the future.”
Fenwick’s principal, Peter Groom, offered the following statement:
“On behalf of the Fenwick community, we would like to express our appreciation to Judge Kennedy for her willingness to consider our petition and provide us with a fair hearing. That is all that Fenwick ever asked. And the only thing our administration was duty-bound to provide for our students, who sacrificed so much their destination.
Fenwick, of course, is disappointed with the outcome. The Fenwick board and president will be apprised of the decision and will pursue no further efforts to secure its berth in the football championship this weekend. Rather, we wish Plainfield North and East St. Louis the best of luck this coming weekend and know that each will be able to hold their heads high upon its completion.
We owed our students a fair hearing of their grievance. We received a fair hearing and now it is finished.”
The ruling comes from a lawsuit brought by Fenwick against the Illinois High School Association, which refused to hear an appeal from Fenwick. The IHSA sited bylaw 6.033, which makes decisions made on the field by game officials, as final.
The Friars were leading 10-7 with four seconds left in the fourth quarter. Fenwick quarterback Jacob Keller heaved a ball downfield to run out the clock. After the referee’s intentional grounding call and incorrect awarding of an untimed down to Plainfield North, the Tigers kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie the game at 10, sending the game into the extra session. After Fenwick took a 17-10 lead in overtime, Plainfield North’s Dillon McCarthy answered with a rushing touchdown. His two point conversion was the difference in the game moments later.
The Illinois High School Association on Saturday night admitted that the referee's call was incorrect, however, “IHSA by-law 6.033 clearly states that, ‘the decisions of game officials shall be final; protests against the decision of a game official shall not be reviewed by the Board of Directors.’ Given that rule, the contest result shall remain final with Plainfield North advancing to the Class 7A State Championship.”
Plainfield North will take on East St. Louis in the IHSA State 7A championship on Saturday at 4:00pm on the campus of the University of Illinois.