Judge rules against Fenwick High School over football referee mistake

CHICAGO --A judge rejected the Fenwick High School football team’s emergency plea to overturn the result of last weekend’s semi-fianl football game. Nobody disputes that the outcome of the game was wrong – but the judge found that the bylaws of the Illinois High School Association didn’t allow for a court to intervene.

Only four seconds remained on the clock, and Fenwick was leading Plainfield North by a score of 10 to 7. Fenwick had the ball on its own 15 yard line. All it had to do was run out the clock to clinch the school’s first appearance in the state title game. At the instruction of his coach, Fenwick’s quarterback launched the ball down the field where it safely fell out of reach of any player.

The incomplete pass should have ended the game.

But the officials threw a penalty flag, calling intentional grounding, and mistakenly gave Plainfield North one untimed down. Plainfield North kicked the game-tying field goal, sending the game into overtime. Plainfield tied the game and won in overtime, 18-17.

After the game the IHSA and the refs involved admitted that the call was wrong. Fenwick filed an emergency lawsuit in cook county court, asking a judge to overturn the outcome, but the lawsuit was rejected.

Cook County Judge Kathleen Kennedy ruled Wednesday that Plainfield North High School's Saturday win over Fenwick High School should stand. She cited a bylaw of the body that governs prep sports in Illinois, the Illinois High School Association, saying officials' decisions are final.

Fenwick Principal Peter Groom said the Oak Park school will not appeal.

"We owed our students a fair hearing of their grievance. We received a fair hearing, and now it is finished,” said Fenwick Principal Peter Groom.

Even though the IHSA technically won by having its bylaws upheld, the organization’s executive director made it clear that there were no winners in this situation.

“I don’t feel like it’s a win. It’s a tough on both sides, and it’s a tough decision to make, we’re glad that the judge ruled and followed the law," Craig Anderson said.

Plainfield will play East St. Louis Saturday for the Class 7A state title.