CHICAGO — Athletes and parents at Simeon High School say they were cheated out of a state football playoff victory and they're suing.
When the top-seeded Simeon faced Nazareth Academy of La Grange Park on November 10, Richard Mercado was on the sideline. Mercado is an official from the Illinois High School Association, and the father of a player on the Nazareth team.
Simeon's lawsuit claims Mercado spent the whole game working the referee and other officials, convincing them to make several questionable calls that cost Simeon the game. Plaintiff’s attorney Shay Allen accused Mercado of making calls "as if he was on the field."
"Before the game a parent - Richard Mercado - came to the field in a referee uniform. He wasn’t reffing the game at all," Allen said. "He was seen by several people speaking to the officiating crew before the game. During the game he was on Nazareth’s sideline."
The lawsuit also claims that as the final seconds ticked away and Simeon was marching toward the goal line, an official and a Nazareth player fumbled with the ball so Simeon couldn't run a final play. After Nazareth defeated Simeon 34 to 27, the complaint says Mercado trolled Simeon players on Facebook, saying "I did that to you" and "I did what was needed to make sure Naz won."
The lawsuit demands that Mercado and the entire officiating crew be fired. Allen wants the win overturned, and he is asking a judge to rule on the matter before Nazareth plays St. Charles for the Division 7A State Championship Saturday.
The Illinois High School Association sent WGN a statement saying it has not received official notification of any litigation, so it has no comment. There's also no comment yet from the Nazareth coach or Mercado. Simeon's coach offered no comment because he is not party to the suit.
Read the full complaint below: